Greater Manchester healthcare heroes have always been an irreplaceable pillar of support for our communities and, especially during the past 18 months, many have gone above and beyond to provide essential care.

In the face of tragedy and the unknown, healthcare professionals, volunteers and community workers all over Greater Manchester have gone to great lengths to ensure those who need support don't have to go without.

These incredible people have improved the circumstances for many across the North West and without them, those who received their care could have faced more adversity.

The Greater Manchester Health and Care Champion Awards 2021 took place earlier in November to celebrate the monumental efforts made by caregivers across the region.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the celebrations were held virtually and health and care champions were spotlighted at the Greater Manchester Virtual Awards Night.

Around 200 virtual guests logged on with their friends and family to hear about the tremendous work of the 37 shortlisted candidates who have gone the extra mile throughout the pandemic.

Fourteen individuals and teams were recognised and rewarded for their outstanding contribution to the health and wellbeing of others across Greater Manchester during such a difficult time.

The Greater Manchester Health and Care Champion Awards 2021 took place on Thursday November 11, to celebrate  the great efforts made by caregivers across the region
The Greater Manchester Health and Care Champion Awards 2021 took place on Thursday November 11, to celebrate  the great efforts made by caregivers across the region

The event was hosted by Manchester’s very own television presenter, Michelle Ackerley.

Michelle said: “I am very excited to be part of an event that recognises and celebrates healthcare workers who have supported us all during such a challenging year”.

Sarah Price, the chief officer of The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: "It was great to hear all the stories behind our shortlisted finalists that were nominated for this year’s awards.

She added: "It was simply wonderful to learn all about the different kinds of occupations and sectors that came together during the pandemic to help care and support the wellbeing of others in Greater Manchester during these unprecedented times. I came away feeling incredibly proud.”

The Collaborative Champion award recognised those from different sectors who came together to support the community.

This year’s winners were the flight crew members from Virgin Atlantic; Sue Povey, Mia Povey, Katie Mainwearing, Laura Sutton, Fran Grundy, and Lynette Blythe, who were grounded during the pandemic and redeployed to Bolton NHS Foundation Trust.

Thanks to a collaboration between the trust and Virgin Atlantic, the team was able to put its customer service skills to good use, taking up healthcare assistant and patient liaison roles to enhance patient experiences.

This year, the Mayor’s Special Recognition award was presented to Niamh Brophy and the Homeless Palliative Care Service Team at St Ann's Hospice.

The pandemic brought many additional challenges to those experiencing homelessness, as well as those who rely on palliative and end of life care.

The team at St Ann’s Hospice reached out and improved the end of care life for homeless people which can be traumatic and often undignified.

The service has been successfully reaching people at earlier stages of illness in order to improve their quality of care.

The event was hosted by Manchester’s very own television presenter, Michelle Ackerley
The event was hosted by Manchester’s very own television presenter, Michelle Ackerley

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, recorded a message to announce the winner of his Mayor’s Special Recognition Award and said: “What a superb night. It was a real honour to support this year’s awards and be part of the judging panel to select the winners - especially choosing the winner of The Mayor's Special Recognition Award.

"What these awards have shown us is that even when we are tested to our limits, like during a pandemic, people come together even more so to help improve the health and wellbeing of others."

He continued: “Without all these people the pandemic would have been more challenging - and our health and social care sector would be struggling. Congratulations to all of our winners – Greater Manchester is proud of you.”

The Young Champion of the Year award was awarded to fundraising extraordinaire Freddie Xavi.

Freddie, who has raised a staggering £220,000 for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, was presented with his award by chair of The Greater Manchester Health and Care Partnership, Sir Richard Leese.

He also received a special thank you message from the team at the hospital as well as his favourite Burnley footballer, captain Ben Mee.

Freddie’s best friend, Hughie, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia last September before beginning three years of treatment at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital.

Hughie wanted to say thank you to the medics looking after him, so he signed up for the hospital charity’s fundraising walk.

Sadly he was too ill to take part on the day, which is when his best friend Freddie stepped up.

The 11-year-old set up a fundraising challenge on behalf of his pal, running 2km every day in the 50 days leading up to Christmas.

He completed the final 2km on Christmas morning surrounded by friends, family and strangers cheering him on.

The online event was kindly supported by media partners Hits Radio and the Manchester Evening News, along with category sponsors including Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Health Innovation Manchester, Hempsons, NHS Professionals and Manchester United Football Club.

During the event, a raffle was drawn in which three raffle prizes were given away courtesy of iFly Manchester, The Quayside MediaCityUK and The Halle Orchestra.

Humans MCR were the excited winners of the Community Champion Award
Humans MCR were the excited winners of the Community Champion Award

The full list of the winners

Adaptable Champion - Paige Williams, HR advisor at Wigan Council

Apprentice of the Year - Katie Hook, support worker apprentice at Etherstone Day Centre

Collaborative Champion - Flight crew from Virgin Atlantic for Bolton NHS Foundation Trust:

Sue Povey, Mia Povey, Katie Mainwaring, Laura Sutton, Fran Grundy, Lynette Blythe

Community Champion - Humans MCR

Inclusion Champion - The Covid Vaccine Project for People with a Learning Disability: Salford CCG and Salford Royal Foundation Trust

Innovation Champion - Cygnet team at Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust

Key Worker Champion - Frances Murray, director of Homeshine Ltd

Leadership Champion - Faisal Bokhari, deputy head of medicines optimisation and non-medical prescribing lead at

NHS Tameside and Glossop CCG

Returning Champion - Kathryn Haslam, returning nurse at Community Services Oldham

Student of the Year - Amber Lynch, physiotherapy student at Manchester Metropolitan University

Volunteer Champion - Hassan Patel and Imran Musa, cultural support volunteers at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust

Wellbeing Champion - Aba Graham, race relations advocate at Ebony and Ivory Community in Stockport

Young Champion - Freddie Xavi

Mayor's Special Recognition - Niamh Brophy and the Homeless Palliative Care Service Team, St Ann's Hospice.

To find out more about The Greater Manchester Health and Care Champion Awards click here.

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