Inspiring winners of Hospice UK 2017 awards

A 17-year-old student – whose rewarding experiences as a hospice volunteer made him more determined than ever to become a doctor – and one of the UK’s pioneers in bereavement care who ensured this support has become widely recognised as an essential component of palliative care are among the winners of this year’s Hospice UK awards.

Young Volunteer of the Year 2017: Nour Karkach: St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Eastbourne

Young student Nour made a big impression on staff at St Wilfrid’s Hospice during his interview when they soon recognised his “special qualities”. In addition, when he told them that alongside his studies he worked as a lifeguard and had already carried out life saving CPR, they know he would be compassionate and resilient enough to deal with the emotionally demanding nature of hospice care.

Nour was initially unsure of whether medicine was the right career for him but his rewarding experiences as a hospice volunteer and the valuable learning opportunities he gained have left him in no doubt about his future path.

Nour was one of six volunteers recruited for its Young Clinical Volunteer (YCV) Programme- a six month volunteer placement providing support for patients on the inpatient unit.

Described as “the perfect ambassador” for the YCV programme, staff said Nour exuded charm and positivity and demonstrated early on that he understood the importance of person-centred care, treating everyone with kindness and respect.

Since Nour graduated from the programme he has continued to volunteer at St Wilfrid’s in other roles and also helped raise awareness about hospice care in his local community.

Nour is one of more than 125,000 hospice volunteers across the UK who give their free time to support people with life-limiting conditions and their families in different ways. These include roles such as trustees, providing befriending services in people’s own homes or supporting community fundraising events.

Anne Norfolk Lifetime Achievement Award 2017: Dr Marilyn Relf: Head of Bereavement Services, at Sobell House (formerly Sir Michael Sobell House).

Dr Marilyn Relf is one of the UK’s national pioneers and leading experts in bereavement care and has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to palliative care during her 35-year career at Sobell House.

She led the hospice’s family bereavement service – a ground-breaking service and one of the first of its kind in the UK. She was also Head of Education at Sobell House for 10 years, influencing and teaching hundreds of health and social care staff at the hospice.

Dr Relf, who retires from her position at Sobell House Hospice this year, is, according to staff, renowned for her scientific rigour in understanding issues and interrogating solutions, combined with a “wise, humane, compassionate and creative personality”.

She has published extensively in research papers and books about bereavement care, including ‘Loss and Bereavement’ and is also Chair of the National Bereavement Alliance.

Bereavement support services are an important part of hospice care. Over the past year hospices provided this vital support to 46,000 people, including children.

The full list of award winners is as follows:

Innovation in Care: The Palliative Care Referral Centre: a joint partnership between: Peace Hospice Care, Watford; Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust; The Hospice of St Francis, Berkhamsted; Rennie Grove Hospice Care, St Albans

Innovation in Income Generation: Rennie Grove Hospice Care

Innovation in Volunteering: St Columba’s Hospice, Edinburgh

Volunteer Gardener of the Year 2017: Rita Teed: Willowbrook Hospice

Volunteer of the Year 2017: Graham Ellis, St Catherine’s Hospice, Crawley

Young Volunteer of the Year 2017: Nour Karkach: St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Eastbourne.

Anne Norfolk Lifetime Achievement Award 2017: Dr Marilyn Relf: Head of Bereavement Services, Sobell House, Oxford.

Outstanding Contribution to Hospice Care 2017: The Wolfson Foundation

More information about all the award winners can be found on the Hospice UK website

Commenting on the awards, Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive of Hospice UK, said:

“This year we celebrate some hugely inspiring people who have made a big impact on hospice care in very different ways and who embody the very best of humanity.

“Whether working in teams to develop innovative services and campaigns that improve hospice and palliative care, or through the unstinting dedication and kindness shown by many individuals, they have all made a huge difference to services for people with life-limiting conditions and their families.

“We are immensely grateful to the National Garden Scheme for their longstanding support for our awards and, as our largest funder, also for many other strands of Hospice UK’s work.”

Martin McMillan OBE, Chairman of the National Garden Scheme, said:

“The National Garden Scheme has supported Hospice UK since 1996 and become their largest single funder, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to emphasise our continued support through these awards.

“Well done to all of the award winners and those who have dedicated their time to support hospices.”

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