After receiving more than 20 nominations for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust’s Your Health Heroes awards, the judging panel had no choice but to create a brand new category especially for Amanda O‟Brien, lead cadet co-ordinator.
It was more than any other finalist in any of the categories received, and reflected the sheer wealth of appreciation felt by those whose lives Amanda touches.
Amanda, who works across the Trust but is based at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, is responsible for arranging placements, providing training and offering support to her “cadets” – college students who plan go on to study nursing in higher education.
Described by one nominee as someone who helps “grow the nurses of the future”, the judges felt Amanda’s work could not be underestimated.
She was put forward for several categories but at the awards ceremony she was taken as much by surprise as the rest of the audience when an award was announced that did not appear in the evening‟s programme – the Judges‟ choice award.
Amanda, who lives in Heysham, said: “My heart started beating really fast. I just started hearing odd things that gave me a bit of an inkling and I just thought, hang on a minute‟.”
“It‟s unbelievable. It would have meant the same to me if I had won in one of the categories, but because it‟s a standalone award, it just makes it that bit more special. I feel really, really honoured.”
Like many of the night‟s winners, Miss O‟Brien paid tribute to all her colleagues who, she said, she could not carry out her role without.
The feeling was clearly mutual, as several of her nominations came from those she works with, including Furness College curriculum manager, Ann Brown and health department lecturer, Catherine Currie.
But, arguably more touchingly, she received numerous nominations from the teenagers she helps train, who all took the time out to handwrite as much as two A4 pages praising her work.
Elizabeth Quinn, a senior cadet, said: “Amanda helps us achieve our goals. “She is brilliant, kind, supportive, understanding and is always there when we need her.”
Jade Rourke, another cadet, said: “She makes sure we feel comforted and supported on placement and organises the training we need. She also supports me with college work and assignments.”
Amanda was presented her award by Emma Preston, Health Reporter, at the North West Evening Mail, and one of the judges.
This is the first time the public has been able to nominate hospital staff for awards, and the Trust received more than 160 nominations from patients and staff alike.