Gateshead NHS hero chosen as Great North Run starter

Posted on Thu, 02/09/2021

An Occupational Health Lead has been recognised for her efforts to support her Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust colleagues throughout the pandemic.

This week Deborah Southworth, an Occupational Health Lead at the Trust, was revealed as one of four NHS heroes who will act as an official starter for the 40th annual Great North Run on September 12th. The event’s Thank You campaign will pay tribute to a total of eleven inspirational individuals from throughout the region, and will also feature Debbie via a large-scale visual installation along this year’s Great North Run course.

Debbie said: “It takes a great deal to render me speechless but I was really touched and quite emotional to be approached about the opportunity to be a part of the Thank You campaign.

“I work with so many special people, colleagues and teams within the organisation and I feel really quite humble but also extremely honoured to have been chosen, especially when there have been so many other colleagues from within the Trust who have gone above and beyond over the past year.

“It’s very exciting to be playing a part in the Great North Run, although I must admit to being relieved that I don’t have to run it myself!”

While supporting others in the workplace comes naturally in her role, Debbie has played a leading role in protecting and boosting the wellbeing of her colleagues throughout the last 18 months. Amongst her efforts include setting up sanctuary rooms throughout the hospital to provide staff with a safe, secure and comfortable place to rest during a time of extraordinary pressure.

Elsewhere, Debbie has afforded many staff an invaluable opportunity to share their fears and anxieties throughout the pandemic. At her training sessions, Debbie dedicates time to give staff an opportunity to share their feelings and provides a confidential support offering – as well as signposting to further support resources.

In her own time, Debbie also spent time at home creating wellness cards and posters for staff. Debbie even played a role in the success of Project Wingman at the Trust, providing refreshments to teams around the Trust during times of high pressure, as well as sourcing and purchasing items for Wingman crews, helping them provide a more effective service to our workforce.

Amanda Venner, Trust Deputy Director of People and OD, said: “We’re incredibly proud to see Debbie recognised for her outstanding efforts throughout the pandemic.

“Debbie’s positivity, encouragement and supportive approach make her a fantastic representation of the entire Gateshead family, and we’re all delighted to see her individual contributions acknowledged at such a prestigious event.”

Debbie and three other NHS staff will get the 40th staging of the Great North Run underway on Sunday 12th September, broadcast live on the BBC.

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