Our 2024 Heroes

What a day of celebration with many, many emotional moments – please join us in congratulating our winners!

The Heroes Awards 2024 in Milton Keynes was a remarkable day, celebrating the outstanding achievements of our dedicated team members. These unsung heroes work tirelessly to ensure that people thrive in their lives, and their wonderful relationships truly shine through.

Let’s take a closer look at our deserving winners:

  1. Loretta French – Making things happen: Loretta, a Support Worker based at a Supported Living home on the Wirral (586), exemplifies compassion and dedication. Her proactive approach ensures that people receive the support they need to try new things and achieve their goals.
  2. Thomas Matthews – Excellence in accessibility: Thomas, a Support Worker at Wilbury Gardens, is going above and beyond to create a more inclusive environment. His commitment to accessibility will ensure that a whole new generation of medical professionals are more aware of social and communication barriers people face particularly in the D/deaf community.
  3. Jacci Woodhouse and Kitty McAvoy – The Darryl Chapman award for health promotion: Jacci, Registered Manager at Merrington Grange, and Kitty, Supported Living Manager at Chandon, jointly receive this award. Their tireless efforts in advocating and promoting health and wellbeing have a lasting impact on the lives of those they support.
  4. Craig Graham – Newcomer of the year: Craig, a Support Worker based at a Supported Living home in Cheshire (583), has quickly become an integral part of the team. His empathy, compassion and energy make a difference every day.
  5. Alderton House – Team of the year: The Alderton House team embodies collaboration, empathy, and teamwork. Their collective efforts create a positive, calm and nurturing environment.
  6. Elmi Terjavjainen – Organisational impact: As Co-production Manager, Elmi’s innovative ideas and collaborative spirit continually drives positive change across the organisation.
  7. Ed Cook – Manager of the year: Ed, Development and Resource Centre Manager at Penny Meadow Day Services, leads by example. His leadership inspires others to excel.
  8. Abisola Oyewusi (in memoriam) – Manager of the year: Abisola, a former Home Manager, is remembered for her exceptional leadership and dedication to the wellbeing of her team and those she supported.
  9. Madelaine Williams – Employee of the year: Madelaine, Deputy Manager at a Supported Living home in Chester (585), consistently goes the extra mile. Her inspirational contributions leave a lasting impact.
  10. Victoria Browning – Outstanding contribution: Victoria, Supported Living Manager in Newport (248), has made a significant difference in the lives of those she supports. Her unwavering commitment is truly commendable.

The nominations for these awards reflect the commitment, and dedication demonstrated by our team members. Their kindness and compassion create a supportive environment where people thrive.

Co-production

The Heroes Awards were co-produced by members of Unity, emphasising collaboration and inclusivity. Unity members, as part of the event project group, actively participated in the build up to the day. From selecting the venue and menu, agreeing categories and judging, to programme and presentation creation. Co-chair Mary Woodall hosted the event. Guest speakers Ben Fai Lankshear and Crystal Higgins shared their extraordinary accomplishments, including their most recent Leaders List Awards.

Each award was then co-presented by Unity members and members of the Executive and or Board. Throughout the day, there were cheers, laughter, surprises, and tears.

Added touches

The awards presentation was accompanied by a fabulous meal, tins of Heroes chocolates, a ‘Magic Mirror’ selfie area, and a caricature artist. Sustainability was also a feature of the day aiming to reduce single use plastics and recycle or upcycle post event. Everyone loved the marigold seed paper that will be planted in gardens and window boxes across the country!

Chair of Achieve together, Mike Parish, aptly described the day as ‘the most uplifting and life reaffirming of the year’. Director of Wellbeing, Strategy & Collaboration, Michael Fullerton, highlighted the importance of strong relationships between team members and those they support.

Chief People Officer, Lisa Cole, added: “It was my first Heroes Awards, and everyone said before how amazing it would be. However, it truly exceeded all expectations. It was just the most fantastic day and such a joyful celebration of all our wonderful team members and people we support. We celebrated not only the finalists and winners but all those nominated and even those who weren’t nominated but are providing great support every day.”

Unity Representative Zara Wainwright summed it up: “The day was so moving and touching, with a lot of great memories.” Indeed, the Heroes Awards showcased the heart and soul of our Achieve together family.

You can read a precis of the nominations for all finalists in the Heroes programme.

We’ll be bringing you more detailed stories of the winners in the coming weeks.