My midwife mum and the other NHS heroes: Mirror writers nominate their health champions

We are going to celebrate them all with the NHS Heroes Awards, brought to you by ITV and the Mirror, at which their devotion will be honoured in a two-hour television special.


There’s just a few days left to nominate your NHS heroes for an award.

It could be a nurse, midwife or carer who changed a life or a doctor whose dedication and skill saved one. Or maybe a paramedic, an inspirational volunteer, support staff or fundraiser.

We are going to celebrate them all with the NHS Heroes Awards, brought to you by ITV and the Mirror, at which their devotion will be honoured in a two-hour television special.

Categories include Emergency Lifesaver, Hero Nurse, Mental Health Champion and the NHS Lifetime Achievement Award.

Our brilliant writers have got the ball rolling and told of their own heroes…


Midwife Patsy Walters

By Mike Walters, Sports writer

No search parties required, no soul-searching necessary.

My late mother Patsy was a community midwife who brought up four children of her own in between helping to deliver dozens of others.

She was always fiercely protective of the National Health Service and its invincible place as a crown jewel of our society.

Call the midwife? When the phone rang at home, often that’s exactly what was happening, and her nursing instincts never deserted her.

One of my earliest memories, as a three-year-old, is cracking my head open on the bottom of the piano in the living room – as you do.

While yours truly was screaming the house down, and there was more ketchup than in a Sam Peckinpah movie, good old Mum was calmer than a millpond.

She offered moral support as nurses at Mount Vernon hospital in Northwood, Middlesex, applied the stitches... and the scar on my forehead is still there to remind me.


Sir Roy Calne

By Brian Reade, Columinst

They say you should never meet your heroes. Having written about football for 30 years I know that to be true.

But one hero I met at the 2014 Mirror Pride of Britain Awards more than lived up to everything.

Sir Roy Calne, right, developed an anti-rejection drug that transformed organ transplants. I thanked him for ensuring the kidney I’d just given my son had an excellent chance of survival.

Sir Roy, then 83, told me I had no need to thank him because all he’d done was carry out his “life’s work”.

It was a truly humbling moment. He also helped save the sight of acid victim Katie Piper by giving her a stem cell and cornea transplant in which cyclosporine, the drug he developed, stopped her body rejecting the foreign tissue.


Physio Hilary Rattue

By Amber Graafland, Fashion & Beauty Director

MY son has mild cerebral palsy so I’ve met more than my fair share of doctors, therapists, neurologists, physiotherapists and speech therapists.

Most good, some bad. Hilary Rattue is an NHS physio who came into our lives when we were desperate.

I’d just been told (over the phone at work) that my son would never speak and that “perhaps he could start learning to use sign language”. With the use of only one hand it seemed unlikely.

With her unwavering confidence and unquestionable experience Hilary took us under her wing and now we can’t shut Rudy up.

Through her we learned an incredible amount about his condition and she introduced us to an amazing doctor.

But, most importantly, she taught us never to take no for an answer and to trust our instincts. A remarkable lady.


Nurse Sabina Hancock

By Polly Hudson

My friend is a paediatric nurse in a busy A&E. When our group get together, she’s the least likely to moan. In fact, I’ve never heard her complain about work.

If pushed, she’ll tell us something funny or, if pushed harder, a story about a patient beating all the odds. She never talks about the other side of her job.

So it’s easy to forget Sabina deals daily with life at its most cruel. She works with children in great pain and many don’t recover. She supports their families. She faces heart-breaking injustice, liberally covered with bodily fluids while doing so... and gets up next day and does it again.

Sabina is no saint, she has a twisted sense of humour, but we’re so lucky she, and people like her, exist.


Henry Marsh, CBE

By Rachael Bletchly, Chief Feature Writer

Britain’s top neurosurgeon pioneered the technique of operating on the brain under local anaesthetic, saving countless lives over 40 years.

Though officially retired, he still teaches students at St George’s Hospital in London.

But it’s his ideas on how to save the NHS that inspire me.

Marsh says the Tories are “condemning it to death by 1,000 cuts” and believes a healthcare tax and a Royal Commission are needed to save it.

He says: “As far as I can see there isn’t a Tory policy, other than burying their heads in the sand and hoping people go private. Politicians need to be honest and say ‘If you want a first-class health service you will have to pay more’.”