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

Sir John Timpson Talks About Positive Mental Health in the Workplace

14th February 2020
Sir John Timpson

For the Unsung Hero Awards 2020, the major theme is the discussion around Mental Health Awareness and Mental Health Provision in the UK. This has been illustrated through our previous post about the Salford Charity START and the use of creative outlets to help people with mental health issues. START have also designed our very own Manchester Baby Bee, which will be featured at the 2020 Awards.

Additionally, this year, we have award-winning stand-up comedian and writer, Jake Mills as our Event MC, who is also a well-respected Mental Health Advocate having been described by Davina McCall as the ‘Dalai Lama of Mental Health’. Jake has made strides in beating the stigma that surrounds the discussion of mental health and even runs National Mental Health Charity Chasing the Stigma.


Jake Mills


So, when we found out that our Keynote Speaker, Sir John Timpson, chairman and owner of the shoe repair and key-cutting company Timpsons, had previously written books on mental health in the workplace, such as one titled “A Guide to Mental Health at Work: How to Help Colleagues cope with Stress and Depression”, this topic tied in perfectly to our awards.

Timpsons has over 2,000 stores Nationwide and in past years, Timspon’s was even spotted offering to clean for free the outfits of unemployed persons going to an interview.


Outstanding this by Timpson's/AJ

Posted by The World Wide Truth Movement on Saturday, 3 February 2018


Sir John Timpson was educated at Oundle and Nottingham University and the Timpson family business was founded by Sir John’s great grandfather in the 1860’s. Recently widowed, Sir John was married to his wife Alex for 47 years and has five children: Victoria, James, Edward, together with Oliver and Henry. Sir John also has a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph and in 2004 he was awarded the CBE in the Birthday Honours List for Services to the Retail Sector. In 2017 he was awarded a knighthood for services to Business and Fostering, as Sir John and his wife were also foster carers for 31 years, during which they fostered 90 children.

We recently spoke to Sir John prior to the Awards about what the NHS meant to him and one of the things he commented on is how it’s the workers of the NHS that make it valuable, which is at the core of why the Unsung Hero Awards was founded:

“I think the NHS is all about people,” he said. “Particularly the patients, the doctors and nurses who deliver Medical care and the Non-Medical teams who support them. Like other big organisations, there is a danger that central management can put obstacles in the way of ‘front-line’ staff. I believe there are opportunities to make things simple and give front-line staff fewer rigid rules and more freedom.”



Sir John went into more detail about how ‘Mental Health at Work’ was produced, confessing that he also has had battles with his own mental health:

“I wrote ‘Mental Health at Work’ because a number of my colleagues at Timpsons asked me to. I was particularly keen to help because I, myself, have experienced several spells of stress and depression,” he said. “We all have mental health, some have very few problems but others can be severely ill. Everyone needs to understand that people with stress, depression, and trauma are in the same situation as anyone suffering from the flu or a broken leg. My book is designed to increase awareness, encourage anyone with a problem to seek help and to show others how to provide sympathy and support.”

We also asked Sir John in light of the awards, what attributes does he think makes an Unsung Hero:

“Unsung Heroes are usually unselfish people with a natural inclination to help others around them – patients colleagues, family, and friends. At Timpson’s we encourage our colleagues to perform at least one random act of kindness every day – something that comes naturally to an unsung hero.”

We can’t wait to hear Sir John’s Key-Note speech at the 2020 Awards. Encouraging positive Mental Well-being in the workplace, especially those working within large organisations like the NHS is so important. To anybody who is struggling, but still goes out to work, you are a true Unsung Hero.

Lily Harrison, Social Media Intern at Unsung Hero Awards