Mentor of the Year Runner Up: Vicki Belton

Starlight is proud to announce the runner up for this year’s Mentor of the Year is Vicki Belton, a Health Play Specialist at Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS.

Vicki has worked for 36 years across various NHS Trust sites, and for the last 20 years has been working as a Health Play Specialist. Currently, she works with children outpatients on the gastro and day wards at Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells.

Vicki was nominated by one of her mentees and two of her colleagues who all see her as an outstanding mentor.

Eunice, Vicki’s colleague, shared that without needing to, Vicki took on a second mentee despite already have one of her own. Since introducing a new training and education plan for both students, there’s been a noticeable increase in both students’ confidence and work.

Her mentee, Rebecca, believes Vicki’s support has been so helpful throughout her training. Vicki is always there to lend an ear and a hand to Rebecca and her fellow mentee as they learn how to be the best Health Play Specialists they can be.

Having a mentee to teach gives you the 'yes I do know this' feeling and gives you a real boost for the importance of your role. It's a really positive thing to do and ignites the fire again.


When Vicki isn’t mentoring and training her mentees, she’s hard at work providing play and support to the children on her ward. Vicki sees herself as the in-between person who advocates for the children and family in the hospital. Through play, she’s able to distract the child undergoing treatments and tests making the process as smooth and pleasant as possible. She’s also able to educate the doctors and nurses about the child’s wishes and needs.

Throughout her career, Vicki has used Starlight resources to help distract and entertain the seriously ill children who have come across her wards. Starlight has helped fund parties on the wards, bring Christmas joy through our Christmas Pantomimes, and supply Boost and Distraction boxes filled with exciting and engaging toys and activities. These resources have helped Vicki calm and distract a child before, during and after their treatments and tests, which can often be very uncomfortable and stressful.

Like many other Health Play Specialists and Play Teams, Vicki’s team doesn’t have a toy budget, so receiving resources from Starlight helps Vicki and her team do their job and make the hospital experience more positive for each child who visits their ward.

I'm absolutely gobsmacked; I'm just doing my job but it's lovely that I'm appreciated. It's so amazing to be nominated, especially as a mentor because it means you're doing a good job at influencing future health play specialists.


We’re so proud to name Vicki as our 2022 Mentor of the Year Runner Up, and we’re so thankful for all the hard work she does providing play for the children at Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS and mentoring the next generation of Health Play Specialists.

Visit our 2022 Play in Hospital Week hub to learn more about this year’s winners and see how else we’re celebrating.