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Selfie with Prince William high five by Chris Evans, Who Cares Wins was magical

NOMINATIONS for The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards 2022 have been open for less than 24 hours and inspirational entries are already pouring in.

Bowelbabe cancer activist Dame Deborah James yesterday launched our annual hunt for healthcare heroes who go above and beyond for patients or communities – from doctors and nurses to porters and paramedics, volunteers and fundraisers.

The nominations for The Sun's Who Cares Wins Awards 2022 have been open for less than 24 hours and inspirational entries are already pouring in

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The nominations for The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards 2022 have been open for less than 24 hours and inspirational entries are already pouring inCredit: Paul Edwards

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Nominate your NHS hero here


Our awards in partnership with NHS Charities Together will honor them later this year.

One such hero is Natalie O’Rourke, who received the gong for Best Health Charity last year.

For 14 years she has run Park Lane Stables, a riding school in Teddington, South West London which is a lifeline for children and adults with disabilities and additional needs.

After it was forced to close last year after the landlord decided to sell it, Natalie raised £1.3million in eight weeks so it could be the charity’s forever home.

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Natalie, 46, and stables volunteer Philippa George, 25, received their award from Virgin Radio DJ Chris Evans in front of guests including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince William at a party shown on Channel 4.

Natalie tells her story in her new book Only Heroes And Horses. In an exclusive excerpt below, she details her extraordinary night at the Who Cares Wins Awards.

Health Award put us at the top of the world

“WHEN The Sun told me I was nominated for Who Cares Wins, I was stunned. Park Lane Stables nominated for a prestigious award? I couldn’t believe it.

“But after all those months and months of hard work to save the stables, it was the boost I needed.

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“The day of the awards ceremony was surreal from the start,” says Natalie O’RourkePhoto credit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

“The day of the awards ceremony was surreal from the start. It wasn’t every day that I was picked up in a chauffeured car and taken to a luxury hotel to be glamorized by a crew of professionals.

“In fact, that had never happened to me in my life. I was told I could bring three guests so I had chosen my friend Nina who nominated me, my daughter Alice who was ten and Philippa who was one of our loyal contestants.

“During our hours of dressing up in glamorous fashion, we met the other finalists in the Best Health Charity category.

Who Cares wins awards

THE Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards is back – and we need YOU to nominate your healthcare heroes.

Our annual awards, in partnership with NHS Charities Together, honor the extraordinary people who keep our healthcare service running, from cleaners to porters, nurses to doctors and paramedics.

And this year we have another special awards night planned.

So if there is someone who has helped you or your family who deserves recognition for their incredible work, this is your chance to say thank you.

Nominations should relate to help you have received in the last 12 months, unless it is one person’s hard work over many years.

The closing date for entries this year is July 12th.

The categories are:

  • best doctor – an NHS doctor – GP, hospital doctor or consultant
  • Best midwife – an NHS midwife who has looked after a woman or her baby
  • best team – any NHS or health team on the front lines and behind the scenes who have gone above and beyond their call of duty
  • best nurse – an NHS nurse in any field
  • Best Health Charity – a health organization that helped you or a loved one
  • Secret hero – Do you know a friend or person who gives up their time to volunteer at a healthcare organization, hospital, hospice, or similar?
  • young hero – it could be a caregiver or an activist or something else. Open to anyone under the age of 18
  • Mental Health Hero – for a significant contribution to mental health
  • 999 hero – An EMS worker, team, or member of the public performed an emergency rescue, operation, or similar

The future king entered

“They were all so inspiring that I thought Park Lane Stables had no chance of winning. But I was fine with that as the other nominees were all very worthy winners.

“When we were ushered into the Roundhouse in London, the site of the ceremony, it was so beautiful it took my breath away. But what really put me off was the exquisitely dressed people moving about inside.

“I saw David Beckham and Rod Stewart chatting to Kate Garraway, footballers Tyrone Mings and Troy Deeney, Chancellor Rishi Sunak greeting Karren Brady from The Apprentice while Gary Lineker gave TV presenter Piers Morgan a knowing nod. It was surreal to be surrounded by so many familiar faces, suddenly we were asked to be seated as Prince William and Boris Johnson were about to arrive.

“All eyes turned to the back of the room, where the Prime Minister and the future King of England walked in. Then it was time for the show to begin and we listened intently to some of the nominees’ incredible stories.

“There was the doctor who had come to Britain as an Afghan refugee and now ran a charity linking British doctors to those in war zones. The paramedics who were stabbed on duty but risked their lives to save each other.

“The young man who bravely dived into the Thames to save a stranger’s life and lost his own life in the process. I couldn’t stop crying.

When I woke up the next morning, I had to reassure myself that it wasn’t all just a dream.

Natalie O’Rourke

“Next, at my Best Health Charity category, my stomach clenched. Winning really wasn’t the most important thing, but I could imagine how much it would mean to everyone at Park Lane if we did. Event host, Davina McCall, introduced Chris Evans, who would present the award.

“He gave a short speech about how the winning charity put the ‘zing’ in ‘amazing’ and was a lifeline to people in need. It can’t be us… can it?

“Let’s look at the incredible work they’re doing,” Chris said, gesturing to the big screen behind him.

“It lit up with a gorgeous aerial view of a part of the Thames that I would recognize anywhere. Then it said, in gold letters on the screen: Best Health Charity – Park Lane Stables.

“I felt like I was frozen – an ailment that didn’t seem to affect Philippa.

“She already jumped onto the stage where she gave Chris Evans a flying high-five, grabbed the mic and started giving her own acceptance speech while I held back.

I had tears in my eyes

“Davina caught my eye and I knew I would get a chance to speak up. I was already planning how I would dedicate the award to the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) family, who are all part of the same mission to heal with horses.

“But now it was important that Philippa speaks because she spoke for all of our participants. I had tears in my eyes when her excited voice rang out.

“Park Lane Stables makes me feel like I’m on top of the world,” she said. “I don’t know where I would be without him.”

“When I woke up the next morning, I had to make sure it wasn’t all just a dream. But when I grabbed my phone and flipped through my camera roll, I saw, yes, I took a selfie with Prince William.”

  • Natalie O’Rourke 2022, Extracted from Only Heroes And Horses (Sphere, a reprint of the Little, Brown Book Group) for £16.99.

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https://www.the-sun.com/health/5439083/who-cares-wins-triumph-nominate-your-heroes/ Selfie with Prince William high five by Chris Evans, Who Cares Wins was magical

Sarah Y. Kim

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