Awards honour NHS heroes after busiest ever year

With the memory of the busiest winter the NHS has ever seen still fresh in many people’s minds, the healthcare staff at the centre of that challenging time have had their heroic efforts honoured.

For the eighth consecutive year, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust hosted its Staff Excellence Awards in tribute to the men and women who go above and beyond for patients every day.

Nine awards were handed out at the event at Swindon’s Steam Museum on Friday 30 June, with the winners and finalists, along with their colleagues and friends, treated to a well-deserved night of Oscars-style glitz and glamour.

Swindon Town Centre Swindon Town Centre

Nerissa Vaughan, Chief Executive, personally thanked the 400-strong crowd at the celebration.

She said: “We’ve just come out of our toughest winter and, the truth is, we wouldn’t have got through it without the help of every one of you in this room, as well as the thousands of others who couldn’t be here.

“Each week I receive letters from patients, and from members of their families, who have been touched by the care given to them. It’s wonderful to read and it’s why I am so humbled to lead this organisation.

“One event cannot possibly do justice for all you do – the lives you save and the lives you change on a daily basis – but I hope it makes you realise just how truly appreciated you are.”

Among the nine accolades presented on the night, which ranged from celebrating those who have raised money for Trust charity Brighter Futures to highlighting staff who have introduced new and innovative ways of working, was the coveted Patients’ Choice Award.

With all nominations coming direct from patients and their families, this year’s winner was Specialist Sleep Nurse, Samantha Backway.

Sam, who celebrated her 30th anniversary as a nurse earlier this year, was put forward for the award by a patient who described her as “a credit to the NHS.”

The nomination form read: “Sam is just the most amazing nurse I have ever met. She is so caring and nothing is too much trouble, even when she is so busy.

“She goes beyond the call of duty, provides a wonderful service and is so supportive to all her patients. I’m very lucky to have Sam as my sleep nurse.”

Elsewhere in the evening, audience members were treated to heart-warming accounts of staff going to extraordinary lengths, such as the GWH midwives who travelled to Burkino Faso and Sierra Leone to support maternity workers in some of the poorest areas in Africa.

A full list of winners can be found at, while a selection of photos and videos from the night can be seen on the Trust’s Facebook page.