Health stalwarts, heroes of the NHS and doctors who provide astonishing service - they were all honoured at this year’s Best of Health Awards.
The cream of the health world from across Wearside and South Tyneside were lavished with praise and honours at this year’s awards finale which was held at the Roker Hotel.
And among them was a doctor who not only saved lives - he became lifelong friends with the families he helped.
Nick Matthews, from Sunderland Royal Hospital, won the Judges Choice Award after a string of nominations from the public.
One was from the family of woman with a rare genetic condition who had been diagnosed with cancer of the womb.
She was never nervous - because the man she described as her hero was treating her, said the citation for Nick.
He organised accommodation for her relatives, and made sure he was the one to break the news when her cancer returned.
Sadly, she died, but his outstanding work was never forgotten.
Another nomination was from a woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She said: “ I know he probably thinks he’s just ‘doing his job’ but he’s been a great source of support and comfort as well as being incredibly professional.
“He made the ensuing months after my diagnosis extremely swift and ensuring the treatment I needed was delivered quickly and effectively.”
The cream of the health world from across Wearside and South Tyneside were lavished with praise and honours at this year’s awards finaleReporter
But Nick wasn’t alone as an example of amazing award winners.
There was a standing ovation for South Tyneside hospital chaplain Pat Bealing who has been part of the NHS for more than 30 years and is still working after her 80th birthday.
The citation for her said: “She leads a very small Chaplaincy team of two volunteers. It may be a small team but what a huge difference it makes.”
Pat was described as ‘an extremely respected and much loved member of staff’.
Other winners included all of the midwives across Sunderland and South Tyneside - and they were all chosen because of nominations from the public, including one which said: “Each and every midwife has gone above and beyond to constantly reassure pregnant women and their families.”
Connor Brown, a reception team member at the Happy House Surgery in Sunderland, received the Special Recognition Award. The 18-year-old who died earlier this year was described in one nomination, as lighting up a room with ‘the most beautiful smile, even on the coldest day’.
There will be more coverage on Connor’s award in Saturday’s Echo.
Other winners included Hospital Doctor of the Year Hector Mahlaba who was hailed as a ‘breath of fresh air, a total professional, whilst performing his duty in a great manner’.
Katharine Bramley and the Sunderland GP Alliance (Galleries, Barmston and Pennywell Practices) jointly won the GP/GP Practice of the Year Award and joint winners of the Nurse of the Year Award were Karen Davis and Anne Thompson.
Jonathan Hindmarsh, of City Hospitals Sunderland, was Pharmacist of the Year and both Anne Lilley and the South Tyneside League of Friends won the Unsung Hero category.
Judith Jefferies, from St Benedict’s Hospice in Sunderland, has given outstanding support to the public in her role supporting consultants. It won her the Customer Service Award.
But whether they won honours or not, all of the finalists were told that, just reaching the shortlist in their category was an achievement in itself in what was an outstanding year for entries.
The Shields Gazette and Sunderland Echo held the awards in partnership with South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.
The sponsors for this year’s competition include Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the Wonderful Wig Company and East Coast Fitness.
We thank them all. Watch out for a special supplement filled with more interviews and photos with this year’s winners, in the Gazette and Echo on Wednesday, May 15.