Starlight crowns the second ever Health Play Specialist of the Year!

As part of our packed week of activity celebrating Play in Hospital Week, a national awareness week focusing of the important role of play and distraction in children’s hospital treatment, we crowned our second ever Starlight Health Play Specialist of the Year!

Each year, Starlight conducts a nationwide search for the winning Health Play Specialist; discovering inspirational stories of the outstanding work they do, and the impact their work has on patients and colleagues.

So without further ado, Starlight’s Health Play Specialist of the Year 2019 is….

Janie Saunders from The Royal London Hospital!

Janie was nominated by colleagues for the impact she has on both the children she works with, and the wider medical team. The quality of her work shone through in her nomination. Arriving in A&E, a child can be traumatised, and the role Janie plays to help prepare them to receive medical attention is a vital part of their admission and treatment.

This means so much to me – to be nominated by senior members of the A&E team, who I have huge respect for is truly overwhelming. A huge thank you to Starlight, to be judged on my work and what I do on the ‘shop floor’ means an immeasurable amount and I am truly humbled. This secures the thought that the team I work with recognise play and my role as an important part of a child’s journey in A&E.

We were honoured to present Janie with her award in front of her friends, colleagues and family. A massive thank you to Ryman Stationery for supporting the award and supplying Janie with her incredible prize of a year’s worth of arts and crafts, which will be invaluable in her role.

Ryman Chairman Theo Paphitis comments; “It is clear to see the value of health play specialists in making the whole experience of serious illness and treatment much better for children and their families. They really are unsung heroes and that’s why I’m delighted that this Ryman is supporting and recognising the Starlight Health Play Specialist of the Year Award.”

We had so many incredible nominations this year and we cannot forget to mention our two incredible runners up. Vicki, a Health Play Specialist working at Maidstone Hospital, who has successfully introduced pathways and services for young people to help improved their experience of visiting hospital. And Emma, ‘The Toy Lady’, from the Clinical Research Facility at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital whose ‘boundless joy and energy’ impressed the judges. Congratulations to all our worthy winners!