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Highland Heroes: Healthcare Hero of the Year

By Leah Williamson

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The trio of (from left) Shannon Murray, Andy Kent and Melanie Mitchell are up for this award.
The trio of (from left) Shannon Murray, Andy Kent and Melanie Mitchell are up for this award.

Andy Kent

A TRAUMA and orthopaedic surgeon based at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness has been shortlisted for healthcare hero of the year for his humanitarian work in Ukraine and elsewhere.

Andy Kent (pictured right), who also volunteers as chairman of the Inverness-shire and Western Isles branch of SSAFA (Armed Forces charity), as well as being the club doctor for the Highland Rugby Club, was recently awarded an OBE for his services to UK health support around the globe during the pandemic and particularly in Ukraine.

In conjunction with medical charity UK-Med, Andy travelled to Ukraine in 2022, and returned at the start of this year.

Speaking from his base in Dnipro, he said: “I’m overwhelmed by all of the media attention. I’m not doing any of this on my own, having been in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) for 18 years [started his military career as the RMO to the Gordon Highlanders], I possess a skill set that is well suited to this role.

“The surgeons in Ukraine are skilled, so I’m here to help set up operating theatres, medical facilities, and empower and train so that in these times of extreme challenge and crisis medics are well equipped to meet the needs of their patients.

“The real hero in all of this is my wife Jill, and my NHS colleagues whose unwavering support enables me to offer my skills and my time.”

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Shannon Murray

“I just did what I think anyone should have done”, said Shannon Murray upon hearing that she had been nominated for a heroes award for supporting an American mother and daughter whose car crashed on the A9 last summer.

Shannon (pictured above, left), who works as a carer at Urray House in Muir of Ord, was pregnant with her second son when she spotted the crashed vehicle near Ralia.

She is trained in first aid, but it didn’t include how to support car accident victims other than to avoid moving them unless there was a fire risk.

Her nomination said: “Shannon is a hero; she saved a life without giving it a second thought.”

Shannon said: “Even though I was on my way to Perth for an ultrasound I automatically stopped.

“I would never have been able to live with myself if I had just driven past and left those women trapped in their car.

“I have sat with people in their final moments many times in my role as a carer, but this was different. The mum looked incredibly frail and I just wanted to do everything I could to care for her.

Both the mum and her adult daughter went on to make a good recovery; I’m still in touch with them now.

“Although I’d never been trained to deal with car accidents, I knew that there was no point stressing at the time; all I could do was be there for them and wait for the paramedics to arrive.”

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Melanie Mitchell

LONG-term dedication to people over the age of 65 who suffer from anxiety and depression has led to NHS Highland’s Melanie Mitchell being nominated as healthcare hero of the year.

For the past six years, Melanie (pictured left) has run the Care and Share Peer Support Group in Inverness providing a lifeline to more than 30 people who would otherwise be isolated. She, and her team, have recently created a new support group in Nairn.

The care and share support group is a safe space for members to get together, explore their experiences, or enjoy outings with like-minded supportive people.

Melanie said: “I was shocked to hear about my nomination.

“It’s very humbling, but really it’s the ladies and gents who come to the group who deserve an award.

“It takes a lot of courage to show up to the first one because it’s daunting for them to venture out to new things but many of them go on to develop good friendships and offer support to newer members. I love being able to facilitate that.”

Vote here

Words from the category sponsor: Inverness Flooring owners Amber Rickard and Kevin Mackenzie said the business was fully behind the awards and was proud to sponsor the category of healthcare hero.

“Our healthcare services do an amazing job and one that we all need to depend on throughout our lives. And as recent years have shown, when called upon, they don’t hesitate, they meet the challenge head on and support anyone who needs them.

“They always go above and beyond what their job description requires and they do it with great care and kindness.

“This award goes some way to recognise and say thank you for their tremendous dedication and hard work.

“We’re delighted to sponsor the healthcare hero award.”

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