A youngster with a rare brain tumour had a starring role at an awards ceremony where health staff were hailed for their “inspirational” work.
Also taking centre stage at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) Achievement Awards were Alarm frontman Mike Peters and former rugby international Rupert Moon when staff across the region were honoured for their outstanding efforts.
Among those receiving awards at the event, which also raised more than £2,000 for health charity Awyr Las, were nurses, doctors, pharmacists, therapists, porters, volunteers, specialist, secretarial and support staff – plus even a hospital chaplain.
Welsh rocker Mike Peters praised the teams who have treated him and his wife Jules for cancer, before treating the audience of more than 350 staff and VIP guests to a set of top tunes, playing alongside the Betsi Blues Band.
Mike was first diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma 20 years ago and later set up the By Your Side campaign with Awyr Las, raising more than £240,000 for cancer services.
He said: “It was the medical team here in North Wales who gave me treatment I needed to go into remission.
“Ten years ago the cancer returned, I have leukaemia, and again it’s been the amazing team right here in North Wales who have taken care of me and continue to look after me.
“I’ve spoken about the fantastic care and treatment I’ve had from the cancer care teams here many times, most recently at the World Cancer Leaders Summit in Paris.
“How can myself and Jules have such a positive outlook? Well, it’s because we know we have you, the truly inspirational and dedicated NHS staff by our side.”
The youngest awards presenter on the night was seven-year-old Gruff Crowther, who suffered a rare form of brain tumour, from which he is now in remission.
The youngster, a pupil at Ysgol Twm O’r Nant in Denbigh, handed the Contribution to the Wider Community Award to the Reverend Wynne Roberts in recognition for his charity fundraising work.
A chaplain at Ysbyty Gwynedd, the Rev Roberts later took to the stage as Elvis to perform several of the star’s biggest hits.
Also presenting awards was patient Irfon Williams from Bangor who is being treated for liver cancer. The dad-of-five presented the Most Outstanding Contribution to Improving the Life of Patients award to Ffion Pursglove, a Sister on Tegid Ward at Ysbyty Gwynedd.
Former Wales scrum-half Rupert Moon dropped into the event to join nurse Beti Moyle, who has clocked up 50 years of service at Ysbyty Gwynedd, to hand over an award to the Ffordd Gwynedd Integrated Care team, based at Ysbyty Alltwen, Tremadog.
Rupert said: “I came to see Mike Peters play and also, as a huge supporter of the NHS in North Wales, show my support to the incredible staff who make such a difference to so many lives.
“It was a great honour to be asked to present an award. I’m a big supporter of Mike Peters’ campaign and it was wonderful to see him looking so well and singing on stage.
“Also seeing Jules, Mike’s wife, enjoying herself and dancing was great. It’s just a pleasure to be around so many inspirational people that work so hard for the NHS here in North Wales.”
BCUHB Chief Executive Gary Doherty said the awards evening had been a huge success.
“There have been some wonderful examples of what we do well and some amazing staff across all levels received richly deserved awards. My only regret is that not everyone could win because they all deserved to.
“I have worked in the NHS for 20 years now and the pressure is intense. But we do what we do for people that need us. We want to do more and we need to do more.
“My message to the people of North Wales is that I’m incredibly proud of our staff, all of them. We are getting better and I’d ask people to continue to support us,” said Gary.
BCUHB Chairman Dr Peter Higson said the event had been both inspiring and humbling in equal measure.
He said: “Those that have presented awards have given some very moving speeches and it has been a wonderful occasion celebrating the incredible work of all of our staff.
“The NHS is there for everyone and anybody no matter who or their standing in society. It’s not perfect, nothing ever is, but we are delivering for people. People will always criticise the NHS but I’d simply ask everyone to work with us and not against us.”
He added: “It really has been an incredible evening of celebration and a lovely way to honour our hard working staff and let them know they really are appreciated.”
An emotional Andy Wilcox-Jones presented the Jilly Wilcox-Jones Award in memory of his wife, a former cancer counsellor at Ysbyty Glad Clwyd, to June Lovell of the Prescribed Medication and Counselling Service at Mold Cottage Hospital.
Other awards included Services to Bilingual Health Care, which was awarded to the Ysbyty Gwynedd Pharmacy Team, while the Advancing Equality Award was presented to Simon Meadowcroft of the Health Liaison Team at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
The Outstanding Contribution to work award was presented to Mel Dickinson, a Flintshire Community Mental Health Team support worker.
The Acute Intervention Team at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd collected the Improving Patient Safety award and North Denbighshire Enhanced Care Scheme was named as winner of the Quality in Primary care Award.
Gloria and Alun Williams, who help with a music therapy group for dementia patients at Cefni Hospital, were honoured for their outstanding voluntary contribution and the children’s ward manager at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Nerys Pritchard, won the Excellence in Leadership award.
The Working in Partnership Award went to the Electro Bio Mechanical Engineering Department and the North Wales Neonatal Transport Team at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd.
The Dr E C Benn Award, which recognises longstanding professional, clinical or academic achievement and commitment, was awarded to Staff Nurse Emma Owen, Morfa ward, Alltwen Hospital.
Dolgellau Outpatients Department Team received the Evidence into Practice Award and the final gong for New Ways of Working went to the Ffordd Gwynedd Integrated Care Team.
The Betsi Blues Band included Gary Doherty on drums plus Doctor Chris Thorpe, a consultant in intensive care and anesthetics, on lead guitar and vocals.
Dr Thorpe said he thoroughly enjoyed playing alongside Mike Peters during what had been such a positive evening.
He added: “Playing on stage tonight, the pressure was on. As a consultant you can’t make mistakes but on stage with a guitar in your hand you can afford to make a fool of yourself. It certainly keeps you grounded which is important.
“It’s been an incredible night after what has been a difficult year for us all. The pressure is intense but as an incredible and dedicated team we work so hard.”
Chris Subbe, a consultant acute medicine physician at Ysbyty Gwynedd, played bass guitar in the band. He said: “I’ve been in North Wales now for 15 years having moved here from my native Germany. I’m also working at Bangor University researching patient safety. Tonight has been a celebration of what we do well.
“We are making real progress in terms of quality and safety. It’s been an incredibly difficult year and the pressure we are all working under is incredible.
“Every year is difficult but the last 12 months have been the hardest yet. But we are still standing and beating the odds. Yes we sometimes get things wrong for a number of reasons but the passion is there and the desire to be the best we possibly can.”