The ‘Recognising Achievement’ awards are exactly that. People are nominated as shining lights in a particular field and we thank them for their hard work and dedication.
The theme this year was ‘Health Innovation, including joint integrated health and social care’. Those honoured in the events were people who have demonstrated exactly that and whose innovation is delivering lasting results and which has brought distinction to Wales on the local, national or international stage, or have given exceptional service, above that which might normally be expected.
In these times of increasingly tight budgets and hard financial decisions, it was a delight to acknowledge these exceptional examples of the dedicated and professional staff we have working in the public sector.
The ‘Recognising Achievement’ receptions, one held in North Wales and one in South Wales, hailed the successes of a range of people and made me very proud to be the Welsh Health Minister. I found myself humbled by the modest way in which the awardees accepted these accolades. In most cases, they didn’t know what the fuss was about – they just felt they were simply doing their job.
There are too many to mention them all, but among those honoured was Julie Parry, chair of Wrexham Voice Forum, who has worked tirelessly representing the views of hearing impaired adults in Wrexham. She has also organised many social events which have led to older people with hearing loss being less isolated and having an increased quality of life.
Elizabeth Aylett from Conwy, the head of Arts Therapies and Lead for Arts in Health programme at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board was recognised for her work. She created a thriving department which has a unique and important role within the Board. Work continues to promote the benefits of artists, art therapists, writers and musicians working directly with patients and families using the therapeutic value of taking part in a creative activity.
Bethan Myfanwy Hughes was noted for her work as a healing harpist. She uses soothing music to help patients in hospitals and hospices with pain management, and has been employed by Velindre Cancer Centre to play music for people being treated there.
Wendy Hooson from St Asaph Denbighshire has been instrumental in leading and developing integrated co-located health and social care services in Denbighshire, and her work was also recognised. The staff in the centre she has established include; district nurses, social workers, pharmacists, occupational therapists, chronic conditions case managers and there is also a space for voluntary sector agencies.
Mario Kreft MBE was also honoured for his contribution to the care sector for over 15 years.
The above is just a few examples from North Wales. The reception in South Wales proved just as rich in examples of excellence.
Gwyneth Ayres works as a Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Partnership Officer for Carmarthenshire County Council, and has helped to develop strong partnership links. She has worked strenuously to overcome the technical aspects of delivering joint services.
Niall Casserly is a Substance Misuse Development Officer for Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council. He led the field in developing a systematic analytical tool to enable key agencies to address multiple risk factors in child protection.
Eryl Evans is a pioneer in the field of assessment and treatment of head and neck cancer. Eryl is a Speech and Language Therapist in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board. She conducted a study to look at the possibility of using existing telemedicine equipment to see if head and neck cancer patients could have routine tests on their ability to swallow done remotely instead of in the hospital, potentially saving many miles of travel for patients.
Matthew Pinnell who works for CAFCASS has developed a Child and Adolescent Welfare Assessment Checklist (CAWAC) in recognition of the detrimental impact upon a child of seeing or hearing inter-parental conflict.
The list goes on and on. There are so many examples of people striving to improve the lives of others - those living in Wales and those far further afield, like Angela Gorman, who founded the charity ‘Hope for Grace Kodindo’, supplying medication for ill mothers and babies in third world countries.
From helping older people live safely and with dignity in their own homes as done by Professor Pradeep Khanna (MBE), Founder of Gwent Frailty Programme, championing the rights of frail older people to live independent lives, to recognising the outstanding international reputation gained by Professor Robert Mansel (CBE), Professor of Surgery at Cardiff University since 1992, for his work in Oncology, specialising in breast cancer, there are too many to mention individually.
So as we head towards Christmas and we take time to appreciate all we have to be grateful for, it is only right we should be thankful for these and other dedicated individuals who work tirelessly to better the lives of other people.
Merry Christmas and here’s to an equally successful New Year!