New Year honour for local hospital and charity volunteer

2020 has ended on a high note for community-minded Stephen Pratt – the ‘quiet and unassuming’ Sedgefield man is celebrating after being recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

Stephen, 65, volunteers his time at both North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and local charity A Way Out. His commitment and hard work has today been rewarded with the British Empire Medal for services to the community.

For the Trust, Stephen works as a volunteer cleaner at the University Hospital of North Tees, focusing on disinfecting various ‘touch points’, such as door handles and hand gel dispensers, ensuring they are safe to use and limit the chances of cross-infection. In the run up to Christmas, big hearted Stephen also collected food, toys and gifts donated by staff and delivered them to local foodbanks.

Stephen began his Trust volunteering just last March, at the height of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stephen Pratt BEM

Talking about the honour, Stephen said: “I was shocked. Really shocked!

“I volunteer to give something back to the community, not for any kind of praise.

“I started volunteering at the hospital when I saw volunteer co-ordinator Paul Wharton being interviewed on TV. I thought ‘he seems like a bloke I could work with’ so I got in touch. There’s not much I can do to fight COVID-19, but my cleaning helps and I’m pleased to do my bit.

“There’s loads of great volunteers in our area – the honour is for them as much as me.”

Volunteering for A Way Out every week for the past 12 years, Stephen began by offering his excellent joinery skills to help to create A Way Out’s bespoke centre, creating a welcoming and safe space for women experiencing multiple disadvantages. The centre also supports local young people and families across the Tees Valley.

He has also been responsible for collecting weekly food donations and making up weekly food parcels to support all of A Way Out’s clients.

Stephen Pratt BEM

Paul Wharton, Trust volunteer coordinator said: “I was reading the local newspaper this morning, looking at those who had received honours and saw Stephen’s name! it just jumped out at me.

“In his short time here, Stephen has made a massive impact. He’s friendly, well liked and works really hard.

“Our volunteers are part of the family and they play an essential role. Stephen has quickly become the standard bearer for them all.

“We’re all so proud of him.”

A Way Out’s chief executive Sarah McManus commented: “This really is fantastic news. This quiet and unassuming man is exceptional in his support of the local community.

“Steve’s dedicated volunteering for A Way Out has been absolutely amazing and this award is very much deserved. Well done Steve!”

Stephen Pratt BEM is awaiting notification of the official ceremony to present him with his honour.

The Trust is always grateful to hear from people interested in volunteering.

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