Who is YOUR Hero? The final 10...

Last year we asked you to name your NHS or key worker and tell us why they are a hero, so they could be in with a chance of being the lucky winner of a weekend break* in the beautiful Cotswolds courtesy of StayCotswold!

From mechanics to shop and community workers, delivery drivers to prison guards, care home chefs and NHS doctors and nurses, we received nearly 1000 Hero nominations. These stories were all so varied, heart warming and well deserving.

We would like to thank everyone who nominated their hero and wish we could give every single hero a treat to say thank you for their service which has kept this country going throughout the pandemic. It has been so difficult to narrow the list down to 10 finalists, but we got there, and have highlighted the wide spread of different roles and service shown by the heroes that were nominated.

And the winner is...

...MANDY KING! NHS and teacher partner who was nominated by Laura King.

Winner Mandy Said: "I’m completely shocked that I’ve won! Thank you so much to everyone who voted and my sister for entering me in to the competition. It was humbling to read the truly inspiring work that the other heroes have done through the pandemic. It has been a very challenging and emotional year but winning the competition and having a fantastic short break with Staycotswold to look forward to is amazing. Thank you so much."

Our winner receives a fabulous weekend break for up to four people in the Cotswolds at one of our beautiful properties - when we are able to welcome guests again.

Nominator Laura said: "Thanks to everyone that voted, I’m over the moon! Mandy doesn’t realise how much she does for other people, so this will show her how appreciated she is. All of the nominees are heroes and have done so much for their communities."


Read All Our Finalists Stories Below

1. Keeping NHS & Key Worker Bike Wheels Turning

Name: Andy Kilbride • Profession: Bike Mechanic/Shop owner & Nurse • Nominated by: Claire Maclachlan

You get two heroes for the price of one with this fabulous key worker couple. The nominee, Andy, runs a bike shop and his fiance Claire, who submitted the nomination, is a nurse practioner on the front line in Bristol A&E. Read on to discover why this couple deserves your vote…

Keeping NHS & Key Worker Bike Wheels Turning

Read Claire's Full Nomination for Andy

Claire’s Original Nomination:

Andy kept his bike shop open throughout Covid19, he took on university students who had to leave their studies early. He prioritised NHS workers and gave them free bike services to keep them on the road. More than this, he supported me to keep working as a nurse practitioner in Bristol A&E. our wedding may be delayed but we are closer than ever. He deserves a break more than ever!

Update:

Since writing to you last year, not much has changed! Andy is still opening daily for sale and repairs and continues to prioritise NHS and key workers, even forgoing any summer break and I’m still in A&E. We obviously aren’t making any wedding plans this year, hopefully 2022 will look different. Having a lovely short break this year, something to look forward to would mean the world.

2. Special Inspector!

Name: Mark Caddick • Profession: Infrastructure Maintenance Delivery Manager (IMDM) & Volunteer Police Officer • Nominated by: Rebecca Caddick

Not just one reason to be nominated here, but 2! Mark has an important full time job as an IMDM as well as working as a volunteer Police Officer. Read on to see why he deserves your vote…

Special Inspector!

Read Rebecca’s Full Nomination for Mark

Rebecca’s Original Nomination:

My husband is a key worker x 2 (day job and volunteer role). He has the very difficult and stressful job of making sure the railway between Birmingham and London is fit to run trains. He is working endlessly to make sure his teams are safe, whilst working to allow important freight trains to deliver those important goods we all still need. And now onto his next key worker role... My husband is also a volunteer Police Officer (30 years service as a volunteer) and holds the rank of Special Inspector for Road Policing. On top of giving endless hours to his day job, he has made time to coordinate other special officer’s duties, check on their welfare in worrying times and has gone on duty several days to help those is desperate need. He has juggled all the above whilst making sure we have all the food we need as a family, as I am unable to leave the house due to being classed as vulnerable. In my eyes, he is a true hero and a dedicated key worker who deserves a break in one of your beautiful properties to switch of and relax!

Update:

The only thing to add is that Mark has completed an incredibly 580 hours in his volunteer role of Special Inspector between March and January 2021, all whilst working his demanding full time job, being a fantastic husband and father, and also keeping on top of a very successful vegetable garden and keeping my car spotless (it’s always full of mud from the yard and is an on going joke to everyone that knows him!).

Mark puts everyone else first and with it being his 50th in May, it would be a wonderful for him to win this fantastic prize and have a very special year.

3. Prison Hero

Name: Lucy Tedd • Profession: Prison worker • Nominated by: Katie Head

Prison is an institution many people would prefer not to think about, but prisons across the country have been badly effected by COVID with higher rates than in the general population. Lucy is a great example of an unsung hero, working in a very difficult environment. Read on to see why she deserves your vote…

Special Inspector!

Read Katie’s Full Nomination for Lucy

Katie’s Original Nomination:

This lady deserves this prize because she has put so much into working in the prison she works in. Creating a morgue, organising her staff to make sure everyone is safe and so much more. She has been exhausted through all this as a front line member. Working days and nights, and sacrificing time with her little girl.

Update:

Lucy Tedd is an incredible person. She is hardworking and totally committed to her job, which takes her all across the region. Lucy goes above and beyond to ensure that her members of staff are well looked after and models exceptional teamwork.

Lucy is a dedicated and loving mum and often feels the pull between work and parenthood. Although time with her daughter is often sacrificed, her love and fun loving attitude never wavers. Loyal, and caring, Lucy is always ready with a listening ear and lots of encouragement. Even through exceptional circumstances she is an all round good egg, giving her all in every area of her life.

4. Saving lives versus saving the date

Name: Charlie Jefferson-Loveday • Profession: Doctor & Nurse • Nominated by: Kristy-Lee Bendevski

Another fabulous couple who have made personal sacrifices to work hard on the front line during this pandemic. Read on to see why they deserve your vote…

Saving lives verus saving the date

Read Kristy’s Full Nomination for Charlie

Kristy’s Original Nomination:

*Wedding postponed due to COVID. Worked in NHS instead!* Charlie, a doctor and I (Kristy), a nurse, met 7 years ago in a little hospital in Australia. Charlie wooed me to the UK in 2013. We got engaged in 2018. Carefully selecting the date to ensure all his family could attend, we we planned to get married in the Easter holidays on the 4th April 2020 back in Australia. This is where we first met, and my family are. 3 weeks before hand it became apparent this was not going to happen. Instead, Charlie, a doctor specialising in Elderly Care, and myself, a Paediatric Intensive Care nurse, worked on COVID wards in our specialty that day. We managed to get a quick coffee after my day shift finished and his night shift was about to begin but it wasn't quite how we planned our wedding day that's for sure! We are aiming to rebook in Feb 2020 so fingers crossed for us please that it can go ahead!

Update:

Due to international travel limitations, Charlie and I had a courthouse wedding in Poole with 9 guests (his immediate family) present in December 2020. Though that wasn’t before it was firstly postponed in November due to the lockdown!

Now that February is coming around, it doesn’t look like we will be able to make it to Australia (again). Which means all our arrangements that were originally postponed back in April will once again have to be moved. We have become professional international event co-ordinators, but our event is yet to happen! Fingers crossed for us we can make it out at some point in 2021. We still remain in our jobs and for that we are so fortunate!

The wedding wasn’t how we planned but on the bright side, the weather held out just enough to get some photos!

5. Keeping our trains safe

Name: Heath Walford • Profession: Train guard • Nominated by: Joanne Evans

Our most reluctant hero, train guard Heath felt that his role is not as heroic as the Doctors or Nurses, ‘...but I still think NHS are the real heroes!' It would be nice for him and other transport workers to be recognised. Without everyone working hard to keep the country going and transportation services running for key workers, where would we be? Read on to see why he deserves your vote…

Keeping our trains safe

Read Joanne’s Full Nomination for Heath

Joanne’s Original Nomination:

Heath is a train guard and through these uncertain times has been getting up at 3 and 4am to work long shifts due to other guards not coming in. He is also taking overtime to cover the fact that I’m not working now (cleaner and people don’t want me at the moment as they’re mostly elderly). There have been guards spat at and they’ve only just been provided with masks.... he’s my risky hero!

Update:

Heath really is such a great bloke, and although the guards now do not walk through the train due to safety reasons, he still has his own add-ons to his announcements. He has to explain that it is mandatory to wear a mask. Although there are many different ways to wear a mask, they are neither fashion accessories hanging off one ear, or chin warmers! He has to remind folks that there is CCTV in all the carriages for the public’s safety and protection. Some passengers then take notice and he can watch them slide their masks back over their noses. He tries to keep things cheerful so as not to antagonise people and he is grateful to those who thank him, as it is intimidating to ask a fellow traveller to put their mask on, but he knows it’s so very important. Everyone is in a sealed tube and his work colleagues are in these tubes all day! Of course it doesn’t work with everybody, there are always the doubters, the ignorant and those that just don’t care, but Heath is one of the good guys helping protect those other key workers and NHS staff get to their very important jobs.

6. Testing Work

Name: Saffi Karim • Profession: Young scientist/EMT ambulance service • Nominated by: Holly Beaumont

Two roles within the NHS got this young lady her hero nomination. Working in the labs running tests for the virus and also working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for the her local ambulance service. Read on to see why she deserves your vote…

Testing Work

Read Holly’s Full Nomination for Saffi

Holly’s Original Nomination:

Saffi Karim is my hero. I have seen her grow from a funny, bubbly young teenager into beautiful young woman - beautiful on the outside and inside. She does her bit - and some. She throws herself forward and rises to the challenges she sets herself. Since I’ve known her, she’s always been a busy bee and industrious in ways that I found amazing. I would be coming home from work and giving myself a pat on the back for finding the energy for an evening Pilates class. She would be coming home from her day job working in the labs at the Guernsey hospital and getting her professional qualifications, then spending her evenings and weekends working as an EMT with her local ambulance service.

Moving from the Channel Islands to the UK last year, I thought the longer commutes and lack of sea air might slow her down a little… and for a while it did. She kept to the modest one job. That is until the Corona virus hit. At which point, she got busy once again. Not only was she working in one of the busiest sections of her two hospitals, running lab tests for the virus, she was also back at it as an EMT, working with the NWAS ambulance service. She works hard. She leaves her mark. I am proud to call her my friend.

Update:

Since I nominated her in the summer, Saffi has moved back to the Birmingham area to be closer to family. She is now working in one of the biggest hospitals in Birmingham and planning to get back in her 'greens' as an EMT soon. Her partner, Dave, proposed during the first lockdown and they are looking forward to arranging a wedding once the pandemic has passed. They have a sweet, dippy rescue greyhound called Sam who's all elbows.

7. Spreading the word not the virus

Name: Salma Mehar • Profession: Community Keyworker BAME • Nominated by: Shahzad Mehar

This community worker has gone to great lengths to share government health information in ways that are understandable within the BAME community. Read on to see why she deserves your vote…

Spreading the word not the virus

Read Shahzad’s Full Nomination for Salma

Shahzad’s Original Nomination:

I would like to nominate my wife, Salma, who is a full-time key worker and has been working to improve the lives of people from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities and high deprivation areas. She has dedicated her life to the local communities from deprived areas and the BAME communities trying to bridge health inequalities among these groups. She has been educating these communities and ensure that they access the health services they need during Covid-19, where English is not their first language. She has written a picture book solely in her own time to support those who are not able to read and who are have a low literacy levels and English is not their first language. In her spare time she does radio and TV interviews in different languages to promote staying well during the Covid lockdown through healthy eating and wellbeing messages and for people who do not speak English and do not access the healthcare services readily. She has been on digital platforms so she can reach out to a wider audience during lock down. She has always put others before herself and I feel that she really deserves this as this would put a smile on her face.

Update:

Since the Spread of the virus last year, my wife has been working on a number of research projects to understand why the BAME communities have been impacted more during the Covid virus. Her role involves educating the ethnic communities on the guidelines and messages on reducing the spread. She has been working on translating content into various languages and has endlessly been helping Community organisations and speaking with their communities. Her passion to improve health has spread across to schools and places of work where she is raising the awareness of health and wellbeing to support people through the pandemic and continues to advise on better eating, exercise, and mental health. My Wife is a true Lockdown Community Champion.

8. Key worker couple

Name: Mandy King • Profession: NHS and teacher partner • Nominated by: Laura King

Like many others, this NHS nominee has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic. From work in her day job in a GP surgery, to overtime shifts in ICU and COVID clinics this fabulous hero has also continued to study. She has also had COVID and recovered and returned to the front line. Like one of our other nominees, her partner is also a Key Worker, teaching GCSE English, so again, two for the price of one! Read on to see why she (or they!) deserves your vote…

Key worker couple

Read Laura's Full Nomination for Mandy

Laura's Original Nomination:

My sister, Mandy, has been an NHS nurse for 7 years working in various hospitals and now a GP surgery. She has continued to work at the GP surgery during this pandemic, as well as working at a COVID clinic, offering to work overtime shifts on an ICU ward where she has previously worked and working overtime at another GP surgery immunising babies.

She has contracted the virus herself and has thankfully made a full recovery. Alongside all of this she has continued to study for diplomas in COPD and asthma.

She was due to get married on 24th July 2020, however this has now been postponed until April 2021 and is likely to be postponed again. I’m immensely proud of her and after all this is over, I think my sister and her partner (a secondary GCSE and A Level English Teacher) would really appreciate some well-deserved R&R.

Update:

Mandy is now assisting with the roll out of the COVID vaccine.

9. Caring for Cornish Rough Sleepers

Name: Sophie Webster • Profession: Community Key Worker - homeless people • Nominated by: Matthew Ayres

Another part of society that often gets forgotten about are those who are homeless. This hero has changed the lives of many rough sleepers for the better during the pandemic and beyond. Read on to see why she deserves your vote…

Caring for Cornish Rough Sleepers

Read Matthew’s Full Nomination for Sophie

Matthew’s Original Nomination:

My partner, Sophie, is a rough sleeper outreach worker and has been an absolute trooper through this whole lockdown. She manages a large area of Cornwall and has successfully housed many rough sleepers from the streets and into safety. She has worked, and is still working tirelessly in very challenging conditions to help as many people as she can; providing them with food,phones for contact, help with all their medicines and mental health requirements and anything else she can do to help them. I take nothing away from the amazing NHS and all they do, but on a Thursday I clap for my lady and let her know that shes doing her bit to massively ease pressure on our NHS. She deserves a break as much as anyone I believe. Not only was she a hero before all this, shes now a super hero in my books.

Update:

Sophie is still my super hero and has helped 100s of rough sleeper now since the start of the pandemic.

She has also helped many of those rough sleepers into permanent settled accommodation, whose lives have massively changed for the better. Not only are they off the streets but their health and mental wellbeing has considerably improved following years of drink and drug addictions.

Sophie never gives up on anyone and will always be there for those who need her, even if they may not knowingly want the help or to wish to go into accommodation. She's also been praised for her outstanding work from her employers, town mayors, Devon and Cornwall Police and many Volunteer Agencies whom she's worked with throughout the pandemic.

Her willingness to help people when they're at their lowest and are in need of help, but often not willing to ask for it, is most admirable in my book. Although I volunteer with the local Search and Rescue Team, she'll always be my hero.

What makes Sophie (and myself) want to help others?....well in the words of Lewis Carroll...."One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth doing is what we do for others". We believe this is more relevant now than ever.

10. Ventilator hero

Name: Natasha Lade • Profession: Respiratory physiotherapist • Nominated by: Hamish Graham

Respiratory Physiotherapy probably wasn’t something you had heard of before this pandemic, but these physiotherapists have played a vital role in caring for COVID patients in extremely tough conditions. Natasha has faced very difficult situations on the front line. Read on to see why she deserves your vote…

Ventilator hero

Read Hamish’s Full Nomination for Natasha

Hamish’s Original Nomination:

My beautiful girlfriend, Natasha, has been responsible for managing over 100 ventilated patients at a time for the past 3 months, leading a team of respiratory physiotherapists. Respiratory physiotherapists very much go unnoticed and under appreciated despite the hard work. She has had to train up other physios who are not experienced in the area to assist and as a result, she is often left to make the critical life or death decisions for these staff. During this time, she has worked tirelessly in tough conditions (hot PPE equipment, longer hours, breaking heartbreaking news to patients families) and managing to get through to now without suffering a complete breakdown, although she did suffer carbon dioxide poisoning from a sustained spell in the PPE gear at one stage. I am incredibly proud of what she has done so far, and the hospital and the people of the UK should feel very grateful to have her on the frontline.

Update:

I am relieved to say that Natasha hasn't had a complete breakdown yet but the strain of the pandemic is really taking its toll, and she is nervous for what's still to come. I am incredibly proud of her and can't comprehend how she continues to back up day after day (including on new years eve). Once again, the UK public can count themselves very lucky to have her on the frontline

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