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Hospital staff to shine as Olympic torchbearers

Torchbearers at Birmingham Heartlands HospitalFour members of staff from Birmingham Heartlands Hospital have been chosen to carry the Olympic flame in Coventry this summer.


Consultant ophthalmologist, Ian Cunliffe, radiographer, Theresa Duffy, fundraising manager, Richa Gautam, and graphic designer, Stuart Hudson, have been chosen to be among 8,000 inspirational people nominated nationally to bear the torch on its journey around the UK.


The lucky four were chosen to shine a light for the West Midlands in recognition of their work to set up a sports initiative to promote health and well being among the 10,000 staff at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust.

The sports programme was created in line with the national NHS 2012 Challenge to encourage NHS staff to improve their health through physical activity. The Department of Health Initiative was inspired by the London 2012 Games and is a response to Dr Boorman’s health and well-being report to encourage NHS staff to use physical activity as a means to get fitter and be better role models for patients.

Mr Ian Cunliffe said: “It is an honour to carry the Olympic torch – for me it’s a real tribute to the effort the whole team has made in developing and working on the NHS Challenge. The NHS Challenge aims to get staff healthier and fitter through a whole range of physical activities and it has proved to be a real hit with staff across our three Hospital sites.”


The London 2012 Organising Committee nominations process for torchbearers ran from May to June 2011 and selection panels were held around the UK in the autumn.  Tens of thousands of nominations were made to the Committee before the selected torchbearers were finally announced.

Free blood pressure tests and exotic fruit sampling are on offer for all at a Solihull Community Services health promotion event taking place at Hobs Moat Library, Solihull, on Friday 30 March from 11am until 2pm.

Free general health checks, blood sugar level testing and ‘make & taste’ sessions will be available on the day to encourage healthy eating. Health trainers, weight management advisors and the stop smoking team will be on hand to offer support and advice.

You+ lifestyle shop manager Thenain Coulibaly, said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for local people to get healthy living advice and support. Our Size Wise weight management courses and stop smoking clinics have proved very successful and this is a chance to find out more about them and all the other help we can offer people to live healthily.”

Kelly McKnight from Chelmsley Wood, who has been supported by a trainer at the You+ healthy lifestyle shop in Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre, said: “I love seeing my health trainer. She has helped me a lot to lose 2 stones. I am very happy with the service I get. My health trainer has been like a rock, I couldn’t have done it without her!”

Solihull Community Services is part of Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which also runs Solihull, Heartlands and Good Hope Hospitals and Birmingham Chest Clinic.

Premature babies with a variety of health needs can now be discharged home sooner whilst still receiving specialist nursing care and support – all thanks to a new service provided by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust.

The neonatal community outreach team are to work in collaboration with the Trust’s team of specialists, to ensure the care at home meets the individual health needs of premature babies.

Neonatal nurse, Stacey Shaw, said: “We are really looking forward to being able to offer this exciting new service to our babies and their families.  This new opportunity allows us to support babies with a variety of health needs ensuring they receive the support they need but in the comfort of their own home.  The new service will improve the quality of life for the baby and family as they are able to go home sooner, to an environment where they will thrive, where they can receive more stimulation, improving their health needs and strengthening the bond with their families.”

The outreach team will act as a link and bridge the gap between the baby being an inpatient with support 24 hours a day and the baby being discharged home with minimal support.  This will improve the support available for parents at a challenging time and help reduce neonatal readmission rates at the Trust.

For more information contact the neonatal community outreach team on: 0121 424 2722.

CF_Ward_Roleplay_IDA3721Cystic Fibrosis patients at Heartlands Hospital have created an original piece of radio drama to share their experiences of the condition.

A visit from drama practitioners from Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The REP), has enabled the patients to learn about character and story development and as a result,  create an original piece of radio drama  which  is to  be recorded and broadcast via The REP’s and Heartlands Hospital’s websites.

Gregg Smith, 29 from Kingswinford in Dudley, said: “The drama practitioner from the REP that helped me come up with ideas for the radio drama was friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.  I enjoyed using my imagination, much better than being in your room by yourself! I think this is a great way to show what it’s like to have Cystic Fibrosis.”

Tom Saunders, participation officer at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, explains: “Writing is a great way of expressing thoughts, feelings and experiences and playwriting is just a versatile way of bringing such feelings and experiences to life for other people. This project is a wonderful opportunity to show other people what life is like for cystic fibrosis sufferers.  Over the week we’ve discovered that some of the patients have a real flare for creative writing and it’s helped keep them active whilst in hospital.”

The films will be available to view at and For more information around the project, contact Sarah McGrory, arts co-ordinator on 0121 424 0113/0127.

Sally Payne
Sally Payne

A Solihull occupational therapist is behind the magical movements of a new children’s TV fantasy hero.

Sally Payne has given expert advice to the creators of Tree Fu Tom which started on CBeebies on 5 March with Dr Who stars David Tennant and Sophie Aldred voicing the lead characters, Twigs and Tom.

A community children’s occupational therapist in Solihull since 2002 and now head of the service, Sally was involved with the programme from the beginning five years ago, giving advice about the movement disorder dyspraxia and therapeutic movements.

Ms Payne said: “My role throughout the project has been to help develop the movement sequences that make up the “Big World Magic” which children are invited to copy during each programme. Participating in these “movement spells” provides children with extra opportunities to practise the skills that they lack, so supporting the therapy programmes that occupational therapists and physiotherapists recommend. All children, not just those with dyspraxia, will both enjoy and benefit from making Big World Magic come to life.

“Being involved with Tree Fu Tom has been fascinating and I have particularly enjoyed the challenge of trying to create movement sequences that will be beneficial but that also look good on the screen. It has been wonderful to work with creative experts including the animators Blue Zoo and choreographer Nick Kellington and to meet some of the actors who have provided voices for the characters, including Sophie Aldred. I’m hoping to meet David Tennant sometime in the future!”

Series creator and producer Daniel Bays approached Sally through her voluntary work with the Dyspraxia Foundation. Although enjoying it, she has no plans to give up her day job and the satisfaction of working with children and families in their own environments to make a difference in their everyday lives. The Solihull community paediatric occupational therapy service is part of Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which also covers Solihull, Heartlands and Good Hope Hospitals.

Aimed at four to six year olds, Tree Fu Tom runs on weekdays at 5.25pm and is set in an enchanted world where movement creates magic. Tom appears to be a normal eight-year-old boy but putting on his magic belt and performing a special sequence of magic action-movements (known as Tree Fu) transforms him into a tiny but mighty magical super-hero.

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