Inspired by lock down, Sarah and her team wanted to recognise the amazing work of those on the front line. We felt we wanted to help spread a little joy to those in need of a joyful moment. Even a few moments of joy can lift the human spirit after all. Through our #Bagsofjoy community we launched our Heroic Key Worker initiative. Each week, we ask our community to nominate someone who they believe is making a difference during the pandemic through their hard work and efforts. The community then voted on who they thought needed an bit of joy and we sent them a beautifully curated Sarah Haran gift box.
Although in the grand scheme of things spreading joy may seem minor, it has been important to us as it has helped spread positivity and joy through our community. Sharing heart warming moments and acts of kindness that they have witnessed or been a part of has been a very humbling experience for us all and we have now extended our campaign to encourage our community to vote every couple of weeks for people they believe we can help lift their spirits.
The wonderful people below are just some of our hero's that we have spread joy. Get involved by joining our Bags of Joy Group and nominate someone who you think deserves recognition...
1. Dr Katie McAlpine
Katie is on the front line, working in Acute Medicine in the Glasgow area, and was nominated by her exceptionally proud mother, Pauline, to receive a Sarah Haran gift box from us to help bring her some joy.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Like all of our NHS staff, she is working round the clock and her family are anticipating that they won't see her for at least a few months. Not only that, but her boyfriend is also working as a doctor in the Dundee area, so it is unlikely they will see each other until the restrictions are lifted. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
A true hero, Katie is just getting on with the challenge, looking after her patients and thriving as part of an amazing team who are doing the same. ⠀⠀⠀
2. Sharon Drake and Sonia Parkes
Sharon & Sonia both work in Morrisons in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, and as I'm sure we can all imagine, they have had a very stressful few weeks working on the front line trying to deal with people panic buying amidst the current craziness. The store teams have been at the receiving end of a fair amount of unpleasant behaviour and verbal abuse from some members of the public, something which no one should have to endure, especially in times of crisis when we are all trying to adjust and do our best. Nevertheless, Sharon, Sonia and the team have powered through with a big smile on their face day in and day out, trying to make sure the shelves are stocked and the nation is fed - an absolutely vital role in society.⠀
3. Patricia Cairns
Patricia is a carer in the Inverclyde community. This wonder woman is out on a daily basis, helping the elderly and most vulnerable with their basic needs, whilst providing them with comfort and reassurance at these very scary and uncertain times. Patricia received several nominations due to the unprecedented care she provides, but also the true friendship she offers. This is something we all need desperately right now and cannot overlook, which is why we feel that she really deserves some recognition.
4. Jane Burges
Jane (pictured far left) is an ICU nurse and practice educator. She is usually based in the newborn ICU at Great Ormond Street, where she had been training huge amounts of staff in using the ICU equipment. However, at short notice she was transferred to the Nightingale Hospital in the Excel Centre in London to carry out training to staff there. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Jane works selflessly and tirelessly on the front-line, putting herself in great danger whilst making the enormous sacrifice of being apart from her husband and children. She has made the choice to live away from her family so she doesn't inadvertently transfer the virus to them, which we can all appreciate is a hugely difficult thing to do and she will be missing them dearly. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The work that Jane and and all the other front-line workers are doing is incredible and there aren't enough words to thank them for their efforts to get us through this pandemic.
5. Fiona Cushnaghan
Since the start of the pandemic, Fiona has been volunteering at the hub in Inverclyde Academy, where she has been looking after the kids of the front line workers during the pandemic. In addition to this, she has also taken on the role of a Shielding Volunteer, collecting shopping, prescriptions and running other errands for people stuck in isolation. We only know too well how difficult the pandemic has been for us all. However, Fiona is also the main carer for her daughter, who has cerebral palsy and has also been diagnosed with Asperger's. We can only imagine how challenging life must be for her all year round, let alone during a pandemic. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
In normal circumstances, Fiona is a keen runner and finds it a way of escapism from daily home life. She frequently runs long distances, including marathons and ultra marathons. In fact, this picture of her was taken at the end of a 53mile ultra marathon - an absolutely incredible achievement!! It's needless to say life is tough for Fiona just now, but we are in awe of her commitment to her family, community and the greater cause. Another real-life Super Woman that we are so proud to recognise for her hard work and efforts.
6. Lauren Richardson
Lauren has been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic at her local Tesco store in Bedfordshire. She is a home shopping picker, so we can only imagine that she is absolutely rushed off her feet, ensuring that those in isolation receive their shopping on time. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Home deliveries have rocketed since lockdown began, so Lauren has been starting her shift at 4am, 6 days a week to help meet the demand. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Once her shift is finished, she is straight home to home school her 7 year old daughter - an incredibly challenging task that parents up and down the country were faced with so suddenly. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
This is the reality that many people are facing, and it shows true resilience from those like Lauren who are powering through, with hardly a minute to herself to relax.
7. Kirsty Donnelly
Kirsty (pictured in the middle) works in the Nationwide Bank, dealing with customers who are experiencing extreme financial hardships and anxiety - something that has increased dramatically during this difficult time. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Not only that, but she works tirelessly for Compassionate Inverclyde - a charity supporting patients who have recently been discharged from hospital. She also came up with the brilliant idea of including a bag of toiletries to be included in the 'back to home box', making their lives that bit easier. To add to her efforts even further, she also plays a crucial role in her branches organisation of the i58 Project, which supports the local food, toy and baby bank .
8. Sarah Jane Shewring
Sarah is a team leader for the Radiology department in a hospital in Bristol, and has been working for the NHS for 20 years. Tragically, her dad was diagnosed with cancer in December last year and started his chemo in February. On March 1st, he had a cardiac arrest. Luckily, Sarah was in the house with him and performed CPR until the paramedics arrived. He then spent 4 days in an induced coma and by day 5 he miraculously began breathing for himself. He then spent a further 5 weeks in hospital, where the doctors found out he cardiac arrest was a result of Covid 19. He is now undergoing radical radiotherapy every day for the next 4 weeks. Sarah even had to battle with consultants at times to give him a second chance, as things weren't looking good. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Thanks to Sarah, her dad now has a second chance at life and will never take it for granted again. It was so lucky she was in the house with him at that exact moment, or things could be very different for her now. Throughout all this hardship, Sarah has continued to work on the front line fulfilling her role within the NHS.
9. Felicity Wordie
Felicity has been working in the COVID ICU for the last 6 weeks in Weston-Super-Mare, which has just announced over 40% of staff have tested positive for the virus. She has just started her last week of working before she begins her isolation. Felicity has been doing this with a 20 month old little boy at home, without complaining once and keeping a smile on her face. Her mantra throughout this tough time has been - "If I can make someone's life better even just for a few moments when they are ill or dying, then surely that is the most important thing?"A truly admirable way of looking at the situation, and people like her are exactly those who are guiding our country through this pandemic so well.
10. Cerys Erwood
Cerys is a science teacher and has been working incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to ensure the kids get the best education possible. From planning lessons, to home schooling, to working out GSCE grades, Cerys has been non stop and shown real commitment to her role.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Not only that, Cerys was due to marry Kate's son Jack on August 1st. Due to the circumstances, they have had to cancel their dream wedding and honeymoon which has been 2 years of planning in the making. The lovely couple are taking the positive attitude that they will hopefully be able to do it all next year, and the main thing is that they are safe and well.
Keeping our children educated through this pandemic is vital, so we really applaud teachers like Cerys who are providing such fantastic support to both the kids and their parents.
Imogen is very ill with a rare liver condition for her age, but she managed to give birth to her first-born in May 2019 with terrible complications. Eden was born prematurely and Imogen had a long stay in hospital with complications. To worsen matters, she was then diagnosed in January with type 1 diabetes in January. The family were hoping to get away together in May before her liver transplant, but due to Covid this wasn't possible. Baby Eden had her first birthday in lockdown, but the family were only able to get to the window. This was really tough for them all, as Imogen was so poorly but they couldn't help.
Imogen is an amazing mum who never complains and gets on with it. Her transplant is rescheduled, however when she has it she won't be able to see her daughter or have any visitors for a minimum of 3 weeks.
Jackie lost her lovely dad to cancer a few years ago after a long illness. It's so painful watching your parents suffer and die in front of your eyes. Within a couple of years her lovely mum was diagnosed with cancer and died within 2 weeks. She really died of a broken heart.
At the same time as her mum was diagnosed, her husband was also diagnosed with cancer (the same cancer as her mum had just died of) and gratefully now in remission. Jackie has spent the last 18months tying up the estate of her parents, cleaning out the family home and arranging the sale of properties.
She decided to refurbish her own home pre - covid, sold her sofa, ripped out the kitchen for refurbishment just before lockdown and ended up living for months without furniture or a kitchen and her house upside down.
About two years ago, Sandra's neighbour found herself in the most awful place, mentally and physically and at her lowest point of exhaustion and desperation, she confided in her. Without any hesitation she quite simply scooped her up and has been single-handedly instrumental in putting her back together again.
She has a wonderful daughter who is a nurse, her son in law is also a nurse. Throughout the entire last six months she has selflessly supported her daughter with childcare for her three young grandchildren, plus doing their laundry and whatever else, simply to allow her dearest "frontline workers" to work flat out and grab some sleep too!
Most of the time Sandra is quite simply exhausted but somehow keeps on going. There isn't a day goes by that Sandra doesn't message her neighbour or pass a delivery of home baking (or some other treat) over the fence between them, everyday she checks in with her by text or phone call (or a chat through the fence) to make sure that all is well with her. Despite being a very busy mother, grandmother and wife , she still has room in her heart and the energy to take the time to look out for others.
Clare is so brave, despite being recently faced with some very tough times. Clare works in a special school for children with autism, severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and some with additional complex medical needs. It was here that she unfortunately contracted COVID 19 - which caused a delay in her attending another important medical investigation.
Although not very common, she tested positive for COVID for 60 days, despite having no symptoms after 10 days. This resulted in her having to battle to get her investigation appointment reinstated, as her symptoms for this condition were steadily worsening. In the end she pushed for a micro-biology review to confirm her negative status. Upon getting the investigation, almost 2 months later than previously scheduled, she was told they had found a lump in her bowel.
The day before Xmas eve if was confirmed this was cancer and she would need an operation and stoma. Her operation, which was major surgery, was last Thursday and she has been in hospital since. The family are hoping she will be home soon to rest up and wait for pathology results to advise on the next steps. Despite the endless bad news and difficulties, she has shown so much courage, strength and positivity.