These are our 100 Thank Yous heroes who’ve been doing amazing things throughout our region.
Twenty-two-year old Abbie Williamson qualified as a nurse in September 2019. Six months later her ward, Beech C at The Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, was turned into the Covid-19 ward. “It was quite scary,” she says. “It was in at the deep end.”
Abbie has been working 12 and a half hour shifts, including night shifts, and covering for other staff who have been off sick. “We wear full masks, goggles and gowns which is very hot,” says Abbie, who lives in Oulton. “I was looking after elderly people and most were really poorly. It was hard, especially when their family can’t see them. Family members ring and we give them updates and we have been given iPads so they can see them on zoom.”
Abbie caught the virus but managed to prevent it from affecting her parents and boyfriend who she shared a house with. “It’s stressful. The main thing was the fear of getting it or bringing it home,” she says. “It has been hard especially for my first year. It’s difficult when you come home and your mind is constantly ticking over.
“I couldn’t have done it without the support of all the staff and everyone on Beech. The teamwork has been really good. “We had a lot of people bringing care packages because with family not being able to come, some patients didn’t have wash things or pyjamas. Even staff brought stuff in. “And colleagues were baking and bringing that in to boost morale. “It’s not been a nice experience. But the amount of times people have thanked us has been amazing. “And when you are on the phone with family members they are always saying thank you. It makes the hard time worthwhile.”
Alice Bingham, a care home worker at The Knells in Carlisle, has brought joy to the lives of residents. She always puts others first and has been a caring friend to those she looks after.
Anne-Marie Weller and her Practice Development Team worked at a phenomenal level to provide training and support to volunteers at Carlisle’s Sands Centre and Whitehaven Leisure Centre. She also supported hundreds of NHS staff as they were redeployed and over 130 student nurses on their extended placement. She did it all with a sense of humour and enormous team spirit.
Ashleigh Thompson is one of the ‘good guys’ and a Health and Safety manager at Pirelli. He has been a fantastic support to the Glenmore Trust, delivering essential PPE and advising how to use it safely and effectively.
Bay Trust Radio
Bay Trust Radio, the hospital radio station based at the Westmorland General Hospital, has continued to broadcast 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week during the coronavirus pandemic – with volunteers working hard to keep patients and NHS staff entertained during a stressful and challenging period.
When lockdown was first announced, the team worked throughout the night to ensure they had the technology they needed to broadcast from their homes instead of the hospital radio studios.
This incredible team have also worked hard to raise funds for 16 new iPads for the hospital wards, which patients have been using not just to listen to Bay Trust Radio programmes, but also contact friends and family for morale-boosting chats and conversations whilst staying in hospital.
The team continues to broadcast throughout Kendal, Blackpool, Westmorland General Hospital, Royal Lancaster Infirmary, South Cumbria and Lancaster, with each volunteer giving their own time and energy to boosting community spirit and raising morale.
Brampton Homecare Team
The staff at Brampton Homecare team have continued to work out and about in the community during the Coronavirus pandemic. During this time they have been looking after vulnerable ladies and gentleman, making sure they are well and cared for, and supporting their families. Thanks to this hard-working team for doing such an amazing job.
Emma, Alice and James Walmsley
Emma, Alice and James Walmsley from Kent Estuary YFC have been making headbands for NHS workers, enabling them to clip their PPE masks onto buttons on their headbands instead of round their ears, which helps to make them much more comfortable during long shifts.
The trio worked together to make the headbands in their own time and around their everyday commitments. Thank you Emma, Alice and James for all your hard work during this challenging time!
Gael Anderson is a critical care nurse, who was nominated by her son, Jay. He regards her as a ‘secret superhero’, who put herself at risk every day to care for others.
Garry Greenhowe and his mum have made over 6000 rainbow ribbons to raise money for the NHS. Garry has brightened up Aspatria and the Cumberland Infirmary with his colourful ribbons.
Gemma Stewart is a nurse, leading an immunisation team. She prioritises the safety of staff and patients and cares for others at all times.
Georgia Evans is a dedicated community care worker who has recently moved to Carlisle and has not seen her family in Wales for months. She works very long hours to look after elderly and vulnerable people and is a kind, hardworking young person.
Gillian Bennett and the team at Highfield House Care Home in Whitehaven have been working round the clock to keep their residents safe, while making life feel as normal as possible for them.
Some residents are used to being visited many times a day by their relatives, so lockdown has imposed a big loss on many. But staff have kept them in touch with Facetime and videos and posts via Facebook. “I won’t lie to you, it’s been hard,” says Gillian. “But we are doing everything we possibly can to keep everyone safe and happy.”
The home’s day care centre has been turned into a staff dormitory with eight beds so they can sleep overnight rather than go home between shifts. “It’s to reassure the families that their relatives are safe and loved. Staff have put their lives on hold. You have to sacrifice things, for the better,” says Gillian.
“This covid has scared me to bits. I have three children and I don’t want to be risking them, or our residents. It would break me if I brought the infection into Highfield, it would devastate me. “The residents mean the world to me. They are my extended family.”
Highfield has 62 residents and 95 staff including nurses from Romania and India, all led by Ann Marie Rogan, who “works the clock round,” says Gillian. “I do know one thing – it’s all been about the team. We all help each other out. We all know every resident and every member of staff.”
Hayley Saffill is a dedicated theatre nurse at the Cumberland Infirmary. Despite having epilepsy, she has continued to work and her daughter Darcie, 10, went to live with her nanna and granda. Hayley is cheerful, kind and caring and has raised spirits at work by dancing to Tik Tok.
Hazel Murray has worked at Brampton Post Office tirelessly throughout the crisis. She always has a cheerful smile and has put herself at risk as a frontline worker, offering a vital service to all.
Helen Armstrong runs the Reading Room cafe in Walton. She has provided a delicious take away service for residents of the village and has supplied those in need with daily hot meals.
Ian and Steph Milburn
During lockdown, Ian and Steph ran a number of Stand Up Live Bingo events on Facebook to raise money for local healthcare services. As well as raising over £10,000 from the two events, Ian and Steph really helped to lift the spirits of 100s of local people who took part or watched the live event on social media – something especially important during such a daunting and challenging time.
They have continued to raise funds for local healthcare causes and Carlisle Youth Zone, supporting vulnerable young people in the city. Thank you for all your hard work, Ian and Steph!
Jane Coward has used her sewing skills to help others by crafting over 600 face masks. She has worked tirelessly to provide protection for local keyworkers.
Jasmine Ritchie, Allerdale Borough Council’s Safety and Resilience Officer, has been delivering gift bags to NHS staff, filled with donations from local businesses. Jasmine decided to start gathering the products – including lip balms and hand creams – after seeing the effects of PPE on her mum’s skin following shifts as a nurse at Cockermouth hospital.
Jasmine set up a donation point by Cockermouth Titans Rugby League club so that people could donate products safely within social distancing guidelines, including cup cakes, energy bars and other items to support NHS staff during their busy and challenging shifts. A huge thank you to Jasmine for supporting and caring for our NHS heroes.
Jo Crozier has coordinated numerous acts of kindness in her role as administrator of Cockermouth’s emergency response group (CERG). She has worked tirelessly to support the vulnerable with dog walking, deliveries and prescription pick-ups.
Joanne Goodwin is an amazing mum and care home worker. While supporting her daughter and grandchildren, she has worked night shifts, looking after patients whose families could not be with them.
Joyce Matthews is an exceptional nurse and volunteer who has provided invaluable care to those self-isolating with cancer. She has shown compassion and offered practical help to patients and been a supportive friend to their families throughout this crisis.
Julie Chisholm and her dedicated team at Dumfries Women’s Aid have worked tirelessly to provide caring support for women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. They extended their hours and found creative ways to engage with children, while keeping in touch with families when they needed it most.
Karen Wylie has enthusiastically extended the work of the Grub Club, delivering over 500 packed lunches a week to families with children. She and her team have provided vital support for many when it has been most needed.
Kelly Busby runs a Londis corner shop in Morecambe. She moved out of her home and lived above the shop during the crisis and she and her staff have been dedicated to providing a fantastic service to help local people cope.
Kendal District Nurses
Kendal District Nurses have provided care for so many people in the South Lakes and have given people the care they so desperately needed during the most restrictive period of lockdown. Anita Hardy and her partner Martin were especially thankful. Anita says: “Martin needed wounds dressed daily and Kendal District Nurses were an amazing help by coming to the house to help him. They were always smiling (under masks!), lovely ladies and very professional.
Kirsty Bruce is a dedicated home care support worker who has worked non-stop to support others through this crisis. She has done many double shifts and is also a great support to her colleagues, working tirelessly to keep clients safe.
Kuldip McMullan is the Head Teacher of Stanwix school. She has worked tirelessly with her staff to create a safe and welcoming hub for key worker children, keeping in touch with families through phone calls and videos. She has adapted the school for increased numbers of children, making it fun and safe for all.
Laura Corner and her team at Ullswater Heights have been giving those who need it a free place to stay during lockdown, including at one time up to 35 NHS staff. Not only that they’ve helped guests by checking in on them to offer conversation and support. Laura said it’s been humbling hearing their stories.
In one case Laura and her team were able to help a person who’d been made homeless and gave them a home. They have taken on people case by case and offered a much needed lifeline to those working on the frontline and in need.
Lee Butterworth has gone the extra mile to raise over £5000 for Hospice at Home, West Cumbria. He has donated meals and hand sanitiser to key workers and has run ‘First steps to fitness’ online, along with a PE class for children and parents.
Lesley Maxwell has coordinated help for vulnerable villagers and distributed afternoon tea for Kirkbride residents on VE day. She always makes a difference, even before the pandemic struck.
Liam Moorhouse, James Cowan and Stuart Fleming
Liam, Stuart and James have organised an online virtual festival which has raised over £11,500 for Hospice at Home West Cumbria, they had an initial target of £500, so fundraising far surpassed their expectations. The live videos of the 2 day event have been watched over 120,000 times now. They deserve a huge thank you for what they have achieved during the lockdown and for the amazing amount that they have raised.
Liam continues to fundraise for the Save our Stanley campaign. James has set up an online community radio station (enjoyradio.co.uk) with a number of presenters from around the UK and Stuart is also a key worker cooking in a care home in Whitehaven.
Linda Stewart is the boss of a cleaning company who has supported her staff by covering for self-isolating workers, providing PPE and baking cakes. She has also delighted shielded neighbours with a weekend barbecue.
When Louise Gaskell began her new job as bereavement services officer she couldn’t have guessed that in less than six months she would be on the frontline of a historic crisis.
She has attended burials and seen first-hand the difficulties faced by bereaved families, with only immediate family members allowed to attend cemetery internments and everyone two metres apart. Louise says: “It is the most natural thing in the world for mourners to want to hug and be close to each other, especially in these difficult times, but people just can’t at the moment.”
The usual church services are not permitted. “Now there is a short service at the graveside by the vicar, so we have lost the hymns, prayers and speeches that usually happen in church,” says Louise, whose job is to attend internments on behalf of the council, by law. Officials have done everything they can to ensure proceedings remain fitting and compassionate.
“The funerals are dignified and respectful,” says Louise. “The reverend often reminds people that another service can be held in the future. The most important thing is to remind people to keep up the social distancing. These are difficult times, especially as people may not have seen their loved one since lockdown began. I really feel for them.”
Marion Mossop runs ‘Marion’s’ shop in Egremont. She always offers a cheery service and has delivered fruit, veg and pet foods around the local area. She has also worked hard to provide essential items that she does not usually stock.
Melanie Walker formed the Allonby Angel’s along with local publican Peter Blake. They supply fortnightly ‘bags of kindness’, which are delivered by volunteers. The volunteers have been collecting prescriptions, doing shopping and generally taking care of approximately 60 people who had to self isolate in Allonby. Various local businesses have donated meals every week. Through kind donations over £2,000 was raised to care for Allonby villagers. The joy Melanie, Peter and her team have brought in these worrying times is wonderful. A truly inspiring achievement.
Michelle King is a district nursing sister in Whitehaven who has put the needs of her staff and patients above her own. She has postponed her hen party and wedding and has worked tirelessly to support her team and provide outstanding care for the community, while caring for her own two little boys.
Paul Higgins is a business owner who has provided free meals for the homeless, young care leavers and others in need. He asks for nothing in return, just the knowledge that he has helped others.
Peter Blake is a kind-hearted publican who runs the Baywatch pub in Allonby. He has been raising money for the NHS by charging for photos with his mural of Colonel Tom Moore and delivers free cakes and sandwiches to the elderly and vulnerable in the village.
Queen Elizabeth Grammar School
A fantastic team of volunteers at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Penrith led by Paul Buckland have been working hard to make essential PPE for frontline NHS staff including those at the Cumberland Infirmary.
The team have volunteered their time, skills and materials to make the equipment including face visors, scrubs and scrub bags. Not only did they produce the PPE but they went the extra mile (quite literally!) to deliver it as well. Thanks to the QEGS team for all your incredible support.
Rebecca Ballantyne is a creative scientist who set up a free learning hub on Facebook to support children with STEM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) using recycling and equipment found at home. She did this while working full time, supporting her children and shielding family members.
Rebecca Raby is a caring mum who sent her children to live with their grandparents while she continued as a keyworker at Iceland. In her time off, she has supported local elderly people by shopping for them and collecting their prescriptions.
Rev Alun Jones
Alun Jones is the chaplain at CUFC, Pirelli Tyre Factory, Vicar of Currock as well as Chairman of The Rock Youth Project. He’s a great support to some of the most deprived families in Carlisle, running a project feeding homeless people and vulnerable families, and while delivering food around his parish he received the High Sheriff of Cumbria Special Recognition Award. Please join us in saying thank you to an incredible guy – we don’t know how he finds time to fit everything in!
Richard McGregor is a digital expert who has worked tirelessly to develop the provision of digital platforms, providing online care for many. His work at Cumbria Health on Call (CHoC) has expanded to include many other organisations, such as Mind, Primary Care, The Firefighters Charity and other NHS providers.
Robert Ward is an enterprising, self-employed electrician, who taught himself to make headbands for PPE face shields using his 3D printer. He has donated more than 500 so far to NHS and care workers, raising money for costs through Go Fund Me donations.
Ryan Glover is a firefighter who has walked over 22 miles in his full fire and rescue uniform to raise money for the NHS. His mum is very proud of him and he couldn’t have made it without the support of his brother, Carl Glover.
Sally Ford and her team at Well Pharmacy, Grange-over-Sands, have offered compassionate and cheerful support to the community. Sally has put herself at personal risk while caring for a young family, working selflessly for those in need.
Sarah Keaveney, a school cook, has provided meals on wheels for many local residents. She has been supported by her daughter who has raised money running raffles on Facebook and by local businesses, the council and rotary.
Selwyn works for Age UK Barrow district. He runs a class at Dalton Drill Hall which pensioners attend once a month, during the class they do chair exercises and then have a cuppa and a hot meal with pudding.
When Covid-19 started the class was cancelled, Selwyn and Elaine continued to deliver hot meals to doors on this day for the month’s they have been not be able to attend. At Easter they even added a bag of Easter eggs (it’s the little touches that mean a lot) they deserve a Thank you, on behalf of the club.
Shona Cunningham has raised over £10,000 to make and deliver meals for keyworkers in Stainburn. She has also encouraged residents to smile for the camera by taking doorstep photos of people at home.
Sophie Bell from Wigton has raised almost £800 by making and selling cheesecake and running weekly raffles, including a special one for VE Day. A wide range of charities have benefitted from her kindness, including Inglewood Care Home, Springboard child development centre in Carlisle, West Cumbria Age UK and Hospice at Home.
Stef Nixon is a community bladder and bowel nurse. She is hard-working and resilient, supporting staff and patients with her bubbly personality and friendly approach, while caring for her own children and constantly updating her professional knowledge.
Tom Whinfield is a jolly postman who has spread joy throughout Grange-over-Sands with his friendly chat and caring approach. By dressing up as Batman and Superman, while wearing a medical mask, he has helped children to be less afraid and he always has time for those he meets on his rounds, helping the lonely and vulnerable to feel less alone.
Vickie Martin has led a supportive team at Age UK Barrow & District, while caring for her own family. She has coordinated a range of services and has helped over 800 vulnerable people in her area.
The team from Whitehaven RUFC have been dedicating their own time to supporting the community in Whitehaven in a number of brilliant ways.
As well as holding much-needed food banks at the club, the team have been making and delivering ‘boredom’ hampers to care homes, making up parcels for children and families in the community, organising youth rugby coaching and helping vulnerable people with shopping and medication deliveries.
This fantastic team has raised over £16.5k for the air ambulance service through clothes donations and completed a 5 Wainwright Challenge for West Cumbria Mental Health Services at West Cumberland hospital, amongst other notable actions. Thank you for all your incredible hard work!