Diana award for young volunteers

Volunteers from the Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) Trust’s Youth Service were awarded a prestigious Diana award at the House of Commons yesterday, in recognition of the inspiring work they do for Nottingham Children’s Hospital and young people.

The awards are held in memory of the Princess of Wales and recognise those who are selflessly transforming the lives of others and going above and beyond to create and sustain positive change.

John-Jo Ward, 18, was in London on Monday (1 July) to receive the award on behalf of the 12 young volunteers aged 16 to 25. He said: “It was a really proud moment to be receiving this on behalf of the team. It shows that young people can make a difference.

“I was referred to the Youth Service by my consultant when I was a patient here seven years ago and I’ve been helping out ever since.  I help because I want to give back. I know from experience that being in hospital when you’re young can be frightening and lonely, so it helps that there are people there who know what they are going though.”

Sophie Ashmore-Hayes, 23, has been involved with the service since the age of nine. She said: “It’s amazing to get this award, I’m really grateful. It’s not why we do it but it is really nice to know that we’re being recognised.

“For me I get a sense of pride in seeing young people push themselves and achieve something that they never thought they could.  Knowing you’ve helped someone and getting that ‘thank you’ is such a reward.”

The NUH Youth Service at Nottingham Children’s Hospital, based at the Queen’s Medical Centre, supports around 400 patients aged between 11 and 21 with long-term health conditions each year. The service, which receives annual funding from Nottingham Hospitals Charity, was set up 21 years ago to support young people at what can be a difficult time in their lives, and at the time was the first of its kind in a UK hospital. Twenty-one years on it has worked with around 8,000 young people and is continuing to expand its support.

Donna Hilton, Youth Service Manager, who set up the service, said: “It makes me feel so proud that these people are recognised in such a fantastic way. It shows how valuable it is to invest in volunteers.

“They come in their own time for no financial reward and simply want to help others, so this award publicly acknowledges the hard work they put in to make this service what it is today. It is a thoroughly deserved award and to have this come as we launch our 21st anniversary celebrations is great timing.”

The NUH Youth Service is marking its 21st anniversary with a number of celebration events all week.