The Only National Awards For Non-Medical / Non-Clinical NHS Staff & Volunteers

Lauren Eyers Apprentice of the Year Winner 2021

23rd February 2022

Following on from National Apprenticeship Week celebrations earlier this month, we interview Lauren Eyers from Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, who won for Apprentice of the Year at the 2021 Unsung Hero Awards. Lauren talks to us about successfully completing her Apprenticeship Scheme, the resilience showed by her during the Pandemic, her role as Mentor to new Apprentices and how it felt to win for Apprentice of the Year in 2021. 

Hi Lauren, can you explain more on the Apprenticeship Scheme that you successfully completed?

I completed my Apprenticeship over five years ago now (I know, five years ago!). I was about to finish college, but I was not really sure where I was heading. I began looking at Apprenticeships as I wanted to better my career and I came across the Business and Administration Apprenticeship within the Communications team at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust. 

The Communications Apprentice role sounded really interesting, but not something I had really heard of before. It was a year-long course and I learnt so much along the way. I worked on some great projects including our annual Staff Flu Campaign, which I continue to do now. I was able to work alongside media crews such as ITV for their ‘Love Your Garden’ programme and showed them around our Trust’s helipad.

I have also had the opportunity of meeting some incredible patients, sharing their stories and even having them printed in the paper and appearing on the TV.

Lauren Eyers, Apprentice of The Year Winner 2021

What were the many tasks that you additionally undertook directly as a result of the Pandemic?

At the start of the pandemic we were in the unknown. No one knew what to expect, guidance was changing daily and as a team we had to make sure our staff, patients and visitors were kept well informed. I became a guru in PPE Guidance, which sometimes could change a few times in one day! Donations of goodies from our community and food deliveries from local takeaways were constantly flooding in, which I helped to coordinate and distribute.

I remember one day getting a big delivery of KFC and handing it out across the hospital with our Medical Photography Team. I can’t imagine many people can say they do that in their job, but that’s what communications is all about – no two days are the same! During the peak, our team was very small with just three members. We found ourselves with an increasing workload so I wanted to make sure we kept on top of our tasks. I created an Action Log and supported the team with managing media requests, monitoring our social media pages and kept the COVID-19 staff intranet page up-to-date.

Lauren Eyers (middle) with work colleagues

Your nomination states that along with working extraordinarily long hours, you still managed to deliver 1000’s of Easter Eggs to staff across the Trust! Where does your drive and resilience come from?

I really enjoy what I do and being part of an organisation such as the NHS, I feel like I am able to make a difference to our patients, community and my colleagues. No two days are the same at PHU and I have the opportunity to work alongside some amazing people and get to meet patients with really inspirational stories. I think this is what inspires and drives me.

You volunteered to Mentor the team’s new Apprentice alongside five new members of the Communications Team. How did you navigate so many additional responsibilities as well as your daily workload?

Any new apprentice that has joined the team I have taken under my wing. As I have been through the Apprenticeship Scheme myself, I want to make sure they feel supported and get the most out of their time, while learning along the way.
I remember my first few months as an apprentice, it was so exciting. There are some extraordinary people that work here doing extraordinary things, and meeting these people as an apprentice was so fascinating. 

I would like any new apprentice or team member to be able to experience these things. It was a challenge taking on five new members at such a busy period, but I took it upon myself to make sure they felt settled in.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of a working week?

I love seeing my friends and visiting new places. I enjoy going to the cinema, grabbing dinner and treating myself to a shopping spree now and then! However, I do love a night in with a takeaway and watching Netflix as much as I enjoy a night out. It’s been a while since I have been abroad, so let’s hope I can visit somewhere sunny and warm this year. I am definitely in need of a holiday!

Winning at the 2021 Awards

How did it feel to win for Apprentice of the Year at the 2021 Unsung Hero Awards?

I’m still shocked I won. Even being nominated was so lovely and then to go on and win, it was the best feeling. I travelled all the way up to Manchester from Portsmouth with my family, so winning just really topped the night. Starting my apprenticeship over fives years ago now, I didn’t expect to find a career that I enjoy so much and bag myself an Award along the way. So, thank you to my wonderful colleagues for the nomination.

Watch Lauren’s winners interview HERE and the Official 2021 Event Video HERE


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