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

Unsung Hero Awards Visits Countess of Chester

24th October 2018

The Unsung Hero Awards team have been on the road again – and more and more people are nominating their Unsung heroes as a result.

The UHA roadshow pulled up at the Countess of Chester Hospital, the city’s main hospital which was officially named this by Princess Diana and Prince Charles in 1984, and we were given another warm welcome.

Nominate your unsung hero by clicking HERE.

Steven Birch, Communications and PR officer

Myself and Tracy Scott, UHA 2019 Event Manager, were greeted by Steven Birch, Communications and PR officer and taken up to our display area – outside the main hospital canteen.

Before we set up it was a real privilege to again meet one of our past winners – Helen Nowakowska – who won Leader of The Year in Corporate Functions in 2018 for, amongst other things, being an inspirational leader and demonstrating core Trust values of Safety, Kindness and Effectiveness.

Helen told us how it felt to win a UHA in 2018, saying:

“It was really lovely and very surprising. I really didn’t think I’d win. It was great just to be nominated, there were so many different people in the room that night I was really shocked in the end to actually win the award.”

Of the Awards night, she added: “it was really exciting, it was really busy and ‘buzzy’, and the room looked beautiful. There were loads of different people there and I bumped into people that I had met previously and people that I used to work with, it was great to meet new people as well as people I already knew”.

In our Trust we have our ‘Celebration of Achievement’ Award that encompasses both clinical and non-clinical staff. I do think there is recognition within our Trust, but I think it’s difficult to compare clinical and non-clinical.”

“If you are a doctor, or a nurse, or a therapist saving lives then it’s not quite the same as an admin person, even though it’s just as important to support those people to do their job. These people are sometimes in the background, so I think the Unsung Hero Awards is fantastic as it highlights that it’s not just medical and clinical staff, it’s also the hundreds of thousands of other people that support them to deliver their role to patients.”

Helen Nowakowska Winning at the 2018 Unsung Hero Awards

After chatting with Helen and her colleagues, Steven took me on a ‘behind-the-scenes’ trip around one of the engine-rooms of the Trust – the kitchens! It was here that I met Sue Miller, Head Chef, who explained how she had worked up the ranks from washing up in her early days. In fact. Sue had dedicated her professional working life to the Countess of Chester Catering Department. Nowadays, Sue is in a management position and oversees the work of others, but she still loves to work on the ‘conveyor belt’ of prepping meals when possible with her team. 

Sue Miller, Head Chef and Laura Tomlinson, Relationship Manager for the UHA complete with an always-fashionable hair safety net!

Back in the Catering offices we spoke to Craig Hough, Head of Catering Services. Amongst other things, Craig explained that Countess is a hospital that ‘traffic lights’ their daily meals, to show the Sugar, Salt and Fat levels, and no longer serves sugary drinks from the restaurant. The also offer healthier alternatives and will happily cater to diets for staff and patients, including the rise in plant-based eating.

Craig told me that he will be the first person from catering at Countess to go over to a hospital in Africa to observe the way they work and see if he can increase income generation, as well as dust of his cook book and makes some local foods for the staff and patients to try. 

Helen Nowakowska, taken on site at the Countess of Chester Hospital

Tracy Scott, in the meantime, was on the front-line handing out our literature and promoting us to passing staff, who had now filled up the canteen. When we weren’t having a good laugh with patients like Tom Hardy, we were engaging with all levels of Medical and Non-Medical staff to promote the 2019 UHA Nominations.

The Countess of Chester was a welcoming and diverse Trust, with staff from many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, all working hard to provide a great service that has already seen one of their members of staff – Helen Nowakowska – recognised as the Unsung Hero that she is. Here is to hoping that many other members of staff are involved with the UHA in the future. 

Written by Laura Tomlinson, Relationship Manager at the Unsung Hero Awards

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