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Posted on May 19 2023 by Fiona Bailey

A patient who has been raising awareness in the media about Huntington’s Disease (HD) and how his diagnosis has impacted him, has scooped a top prize at the St Andrew's Healthcare 2023 Annual Awards. 

Darran was presented with the Advocate Award at the glittering ceremony which took place at the Northampton Park Inn on Thursday. 

HD is a relatively rare condition which damages nerve cells in the brain causing them to stop working properly. The damage to the brain gets worse over time and it can have a significant impact on someone’s movement, perception, awareness, thinking, judgement and mental health.

Very often their behaviour can be mistaken for drunkenness which is something Darran has had to contend with.

Darran has spoken publicly about his condition to help raise awareness and recently had a piece published in the Independent, the NR Times and in the Chronicle and Echo newspaper. 

Next week a piece he took part in about voice banking will be broadcast on BBC Northampton, so it was quite apt that presenter Helen Blaby from the local radio station presented Darran with his award. 

Speaking on stage, she said: "The person who nominated this individual said that they’re always keen to have their voice heard, through sharing their personal experiences, educating others, and providing a beacon of hope to others affected by this disease.

"His advocacy work demonstrates a deep commitment to improving the lives of others, and influencing positive change. He’s had such strength and determination to live his life to the fullest."

When Darran's name was announced, the whole room broke out in rapturous applause and he received a standing ovation.

Afterwards Darran said: "I really did not expect to win this. I am really honoured." 

Forensic and Clinical Psychologist Dr Vincent Harding who accompanied Darran said: "It was incredible, I'm so proud of him. It was an amazing night – thank you to everybody else involved in making it happen."

Former Essex patient Martin was in attendance to present the Compassion Award to Clinical Nurse Leader Ntando Ncube and Phil Credland, who has used the St Andrew's Veteran Service handed out the Respect trophy to Willow Ward. 

Former Strictly Come Dancing star Kristina Rihanoff gave the event some celebrity sparkle. Kristina runs the Soo Yoga club which is located in Sol Central, so this made her the perfect person to hand out the Wellbeing Hero award, which went to Clinical Administrator Maureen Luke. 

Sports star and Saints player Ethan Waller was also in attendance to present the Inspiring Hope Award to Peer Support Worker Roxanne Rudkin.

He said: "As a professional sports person, I know that it takes hard-graft and commitment to make a difference on a daily basis. We must not underestimate how individual dedication can improve the lives of others, and we should absolutely celebrate where we all make a difference."

Our winners were:

  • Compassion Award: Ntando Ncube, Clinical Nurse Leader, Bracken
  • Accountability Award: Sian Joseph-Phillips, Senior Healthcare Assistant, Bracken
  • Respect Award: Willow Ward
  • Excellence Award: Michael Letts, Hotel Services Assistant
  • Inspiring Hope: Roxy Rudkin, Peer Support Mentor
  • Inspirational Individual: Akim Bande, Ward Manager, Heygate
  • Team / Ward of the Year: Mackaness Ward
  • HCA / Nurse of the Year: Tauria Gayle, Senior Healthcare Assistant, Berry
  • Co-production Award: Stephen Parker, Recovery College Lead
  • Advocate of the Year: Darran Woods, a person in our care living with Huntington’s Disease
  • Wellbeing Hero: Maureen Luke, Clinical Administrator
  • Carers' Champion: Heygate Ward
  • Anne Ford Volunteering Ward: David Warwick, Volunteer
  • Special CEO Award: Yvonne Rhodes, Becky Green and John Darwood from the Finance and Purchasing Team
  • Executive Team Award: Workbridge Retail

The Executive team were also in attendance to hand out awards. At the beginning of the ceremony, CEO Dr Vivienne McVey reminded everyone there had been more than 1,000 nominations, which was a record for the Charity.

Speaking at the start of the ceremony, Vivienne told the audience that it is "important that we take the time to recognise you and your colleagues for going the extra mile in everything you do".

She added: "Everyone here today has done something truly outstanding. You’ve made an extremely positive impact on the people in our care, your colleagues and the wider community."

Special thanks must go to Workbridge who made the table decorations, the band - Grande Quattro (featuring Head of Commercial Operations, Ben White, on drums), all of the presenters, the judging panel, Barry O’Toole and Scully in Estates who ensured the Hope Exhibition made it to the venue safely, the teams who helped make it possible for some of the people in our care to be there, and everyone who got dressed up and partied the night away.

 Thank you to Birmingham for coming across to Northampton for the evening, and Team Essex special thanks for bringing the sunshine and laughter from up the M1.