"Rewarding our health heroes"…that’s what the local newspaper said..or perhaps was the tagline of the awards ceremony. It was an amazingly lovely surprise, when one learnt a few months ago, that I had been nominated by one of my patients, Laura Cleverly who had decided to give me far more credit than I have ever been due. For sure, she is a “changed” person, for sure, she is engaged with her diabetes and is trying her utmost to deal with it, for sure she is a Ninja..the creator of Ninjabetic…but to credit me for that, albeit heartwarming, has always come across as more of a disservice to herself. Its not every day that someone manages to pick themselves up and turn their lives around. To me that shows amazing self belief and a never-say-die spirit, which is only worth applauding and appreciating.
Came the big night and I sauntered in, wearing a suit..continually adjusting my tie. Hate those noose like things….I always thought they affected my coolness…but it was a black tie dinner. Ho Hum..sometimes I suppose you do have to conform! And then the awards ceremony started…we went through a gamut of awards- community team of the year, ward of the year, pharmacy of the year, GP surgery of the year…but what touched a chord was the “Unsung hero” of the year. Someone had nominated the chap who every day religiously made sure the hospital grounds were clear, clear of the cigarette stubs in front of the No Smoking signs of the hospital..that ever present sign that public awareness messages are still not fully successful. But it was nice to see him recognised…and when Fred Dinage, the compere of the evening asked how he felt..his reply was simple but true…”Happy, but just doing my job”…ahhhh the NHS…continues to battle on with significant amounts of hard working, non complaining people topped up with oodles of passion for their jobs and dollops of love. Carry on working folks.
And finally, as if to showcase hierarchy still existed well and truly in the NHS, the hospital doctor award came up right at the end...billed as "the big one"..or maybe it was a sign that doctors..still..inspite of all the negative publicity, still held a special place in the heart of the general population.
Up went the runner-up…and then all I heard was the word Winner…attached to my name. Rest was a blur..remembered walking up on stage (was my tie ok?) and accepting the award. Chatting to Fred…answering his questions with something clever and humorous….but admittedly was a blur. Spoke to the local news Health reporter, Priya Mistry, about what this award meant to me…and it was done.
As I sat down in my chair, it sank in…320 odd Consultants in my Trust and a patient nomination had won me the top prize amongst them. And I felt something I rarely do…a whole lot of humility. Closed my eyes and thanked all those who had stood by me, supported me during these years…my wonderful team with whom I have such a pleasure of working and that silly girl Laura for thinking I even remotely deserved this. So many more challenges in front, so many to cross…the instinct was to say that others deserved it, I had much more to do..and I know for a fact that there are far more hard working Consultants than me in the Trust, far more dedicated….but this I do humbly..accept.
I never set out to be a Hero…my persona, inherent arrogance, penchant for staying outside the tramlines makes me a perfect fit to be an anti-hero…never a hero.I aint any hero.... But its heartwarming to know that I have helped to change someone’s life..and frankly, not many of us get the opportunity to do so. This isn’t “just a job”..this is my life, my passion..and to be recognised for that is extremely appreciated. Thank you to the Portsmouth News for organising the event and it’s a big tag to live up to. I can’t say that I can help everyone, I cant say I will succeed always..but for sure I will give it one heck of a try. As Groucho Marx said “I intend to live forever, or die trying”. And with ninjas standing by my side, it's going to be one hell of a ride.