Jimmy Page. Robert Plant. Bruce Springsteen. Andy Murray…
The O2 Arena might have hosted a catalogue of big names over the years, but never before had it seen the kind of star power on show at The Academy of Fabulous NHS Stuff Awards 2016 last week.
In typical Roy Lilley fashion it was a bombastic, stylish and captivating masterpiece – complete with tight-rope walking and pyro dancing. Dr Teresa Porrett epitomised the glitz and glamour of the occasion with a bodacious blue ‘glitterball’ dress that would look right at home on Strictly Come Dancing!
But at its heart this was about dedicated, passionate and hard-working frontline NHS staff from across the country getting the chance to let their hair down. It was about giving something back to those who think outside the box to spot opportunities, then cut through the red tape and DO something to make improvements for patients. The overwhelming optimism and positivity around the place was brilliantly intoxicating.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, who sported a tremendous beard and was introduced on stage as ‘The Boss’ – sorry Bruce, summed this up by saying: “Today is a chance for us and the country to say a big thank you to our brilliant NHS staff.”
Dr Phil Hammond, from the BBC’s Trust Me, I’m a Doctor series, got the party started by leading those in attendance in a rousing rendition of ‘Born in the NHS’ to the tune of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’ as he presented the first award.
In between the awards the stage cleared, giving Terri and Roy a chance to have a quick brew, while a series of acts entertained the masses.
On the face of it these all seemed a bit random and quirky – almost the Academy of Fabulous Stuff mantra – but they were actually all a metaphor for what it’s like to work in the NHS.
We had a tight-rope walker demonstrating the fine balancing act we make with our choices every day; a spectacular bubble-blowing artist showcasing how you can make something beautiful with only fresh air to work with; and a pyro dancer depicting how adept we can be at handling the heat of stressful situations.
In a nutshell this is what Roy and the Academy of Fabulous Stuff is all about. They want to shout loud and proud about how great our NHS is but in new and different ways. It’s why they encourage people to step out from the background, put their hands up and not be afraid to make a difference.
As part of my role as a Fab Ambassador this year I’ve had the pleasure of attending ‘Activists Schools’ across the country, seeing innovation in action and meeting many of those who were nominated for awards.
Roy’s Academy of Fabulous Stuff has become a beacon for bright ideas to shine in the NHS. I’m very lucky that they believe in #DementiaDO and support me so much – even letting me have a cheeky photo opportunity mid-ceremony (below). I wasn't a winner on the day, but I felt like one for just being there – especially when I think that next week I'll be joining Changeday Champion winner Jane Douthwaite at the Irish Houses of Parliament to raise awareness about dementia. How cool is that?!
As each worthy winner walked up to collect their awards we were all encouraged to rattle maracas or blow on kazoos to give them a fanfare.
I was more than happy to make as much noise as possible.
The O2 might have reverberated with louder applause for rock legends or tennis stars, but none of them were as worthy as our Fabulous NHS innovators.
I think we all need to be encouraged to make more noise and in my role as FAB Ambassador, I’m also very happy to help people do just that.
:: For more information on the awards such as categories and winners visit here.