Inspirational patient recoveries celebrate “hope and triumph over despair”

26th March 2018

A prestigious health awards ceremony organised by Dorset HealthCare has showcased moving stories of people living in Dorset who have recovered from serious illness and injury.

The annual Road to Wellness Awards, launched back in 2013, celebrates people who have battled to overcome debilitating physical or mental health problems – or helped others to do so.

This year’s presentation ceremony, held at The Lighthouse in Poole, compered by David Corbin, Equality and Diversity Manager at Dorset HealthCare, highlighted shining examples of how kindness, courage and innovation can help turn lives around.

Dr Prem Jeyapaul, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Trust, said: “These awards are a true celebration of hope and triumph over despair.”

Healthcare staff, relatives, carers and friends nominated individuals and groups across six different categories. The shortlisted finalists, their nominators and other guests all attended the event, where the winners were announced.

These included:

  • Group Award: Bournemouth Parent Carer Forum – This group provides a voice for, as well as support and advice to parents/carers of children and young adults with special educational needs and complex learning or medical disabilities
  • Kindness Award: Cassie Merry (North Dorset) – At just 16 years old Cassie has experienced many challenges in her life – battling depression being just one. Yet she continues to show great generosity and kindness, using her own experiences to help other young people
  • Inspiration Award: Alison Mullins (Weymouth) – Alison was left with life-changing physical injuries and mental health problems following a vicious attack whilst working as a police officer in London. Now having returned to her hometown, her resilience is inspirational, and she is using this to support others
  • Courage Award: Gerry Bruce-Ahrens (North Dorset) – Gerry has suffered multiple traumas throughout her life, including racism, prejudice, rejection and abuse. Yet she raises awareness of women and same sex relationships through writing and talks, fighting for equality and human rights
  • Carers Award: Lindsey Oliver (Poole) – Lindsey has shown outstanding commitment to improve the lives of family members who could not cope without her, constantly showing unwavering dedication and positivity, while also volunteering with the Leonardo Trust and raising money to help others
  • Outstanding Achievement Award: Lucy Skinner (Poole) – Lucy is 16 years old and has spent most of her life in care. She suffers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, cystic fibrosis and diabetes. Despite this, she cares for her younger sister and disabled grandmother. She refuses to let her health setbacks get her down, and uses her experiences to help other young people.

Dorset HealthCare Chair Andy Willis, who presented the Outstanding Achievement Award, said: “I’m extremely humbled and moved by the stories of courage, determination and positivity. I would like to thank everyone for sharing their stories with us, and all the nominees should feel incredibly proud.

“To bring together such incredible individuals, of all ages and backgrounds is fantastic, and the Road to Wellness Awards is a great way of celebrating the hard work of staff and our courageous patients in using their experiences to help others.”

Winner of the Courage Award, Gerry Bruce-Ahrens said: “Winning this award makes the journey worthwhile. It’s acknowledgement of your own personal journey, but also recognition for those who have helped you get there - it means so much.”

Inspirational Award winner Alison Mullins said: “This award has given me such a boost, and I think it will give many people the strength to keep going and believing. I also think it’s wonderful that carers are also being recognised, as they play such a pivotal role in a person’s recovery.”

The evening was brought to a close in fitting style, with Outstanding Achievement Award finalist James Lane performing two songs on stage – one of which he wrote about his journey after recovering from a brain haemorrhage four years ago.

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