A Healthcare Assistant at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital has been crowned the latest winner of the Health Hero Award – for her dedication in supporting a research study.

Meryl Owen, who has been working in the Research Team at the Oswestry-based hospital, to support with the SIREN study – a study which is looking at whether healthcare workers who are identified as having previously had Covid-19, detected by positive antibody tests, compared to those who do not have evidence of infection, are protected from future episodes of infection.

The findings from the year-long study will be used to help understand the future impact of Covid-19 on the population.

Meryl was nominated by Kerry Robinson, Chief Performance, Improvement and Organisational Development Officer; and Rebecca Warren, Lead Nurse for the Covid Vaccination Centre at RJAH.

Kerry said: “Meryl is amazing, and she is so committed to carry out her role for the term of the study. She fits in all the participants around their day-to-day jobs by coming in much earlier than her start time and chasing those who haven’t been able to get their bloods or swabs during her lunch break.

“Given how hard she works and how she goes out of her way to deliver this study, which as we know is benefiting the population through the findings, she is totally deserving of this award.”

Rebecca added: “During very busy periods a few members of staff, including myself, were finding it difficult to attend appointments for the SIREN study. Meryl went above and beyond to arrange and change appointments around our service.

“One day, Meryl came in early to ensure our bloods were taken and we were swabbed, I thanked for her this and she replied, ‘it’s important for me to be flexible because this study and its results are so important’.

“We are lucky to have someone like Meryl, who is 100% committed to her work, doing such an important role.”

She was presented her award, consisting of a keepsake certificate, special badge and box of chocolates donated by the League of Friends, by Stacey Keegan, Interim Chief Executive.

Meryl said: “I’m absolutely astounded that I’ve won the Health Hero Award, as I think everyone who works at this hospital is worthy of one.

“I feel so touched that people have taken the time to nominate me.

“I’m really enjoying working on the SIREN study. It feels great to be supporting this crucial piece of work, which is providing us with such important findings.

“For me, starting earlier and working around study participants is extremely worthwhile – it means that our numbers don’t drop and as a Trust we can continue to play our part. I know that many of my colleagues have extremely busy work schedules, so I’m more than happy to be as supportive as I can be.”

The monthly award is presented to unsung heroes from across the hospital who are nominated by their colleagues for going the extra mile.

Stacey said: “Meryl has clearly gone above and beyond to support the needs of the SIREN study – she is making a remarkable contribution to our performance in the study, and she should be very proud.

“I am delighted to announce Meryl as August’s winner of the Health Hero Award.”

Pictured: Meryl Owen, Healthcare Assistant in the Research Team; receiving her Health Hero Award from Stacey Keegan, Interim Chief Executive; with Jayne Edwards, Lead Research Nurse.