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Employee Appreciation Day: Shining Stars of Ronald McDonald House Charities UK

February 27, 2024

Employee Appreciation Day is a chance for us to show extra appreciation to our staff and their continuous hard work for the Charity. At Ronald McDonald House Charities UK, we believe that feedback helps us grow and a peer recognition programme is a chance to share positive feedback about our colleagues, show our appreciation and support a positive working culture.

Shining Stars is our peer recognition programme which allows colleagues to recognise the greatness in our peers and their contributions and impact. We recognise the contributions of all of our staff but each quarter we award five different winners as Shining Stars with £50 vouchers. This Employee Appreciation Day we spoke to some of our Shining Stars from 2023 and found out what it means to them to win an award.

Charlene Mann, Facilities Administrator

Charlene’s passion shines through, and she provided unwavering support to families in her House Assistant role, whilst going above and beyond as a key contributor for our environmental group. Since winning her award, Charlene has moved into a new role as Facilities Administrator!

On winning an award, Charlene said: “I enjoyed project managing our new Waste System across our 14 Houses in the UK. I did this task alongside my daily role and used the skills I previously gained from completing my L3 NVQ in Business Administration with the Charity. Having the opportunity to develop and enhance my skillset followed by recognition for my efforts, has made me feel valued within the Charity.

I especially liked that I received what my peers had written about me, it is so lovely to hear how valued you are within your team. I used my voucher towards buying a new PS5 controller, I am a geek at heart and play computer games with my family, so I thought if I have my own controller, my boys can’t argue over mine!”

Sandra Wordley, Housekeeper

Sandra provides huge support to families staying in the House and makes a lasting impression on those she comes into contact with. Sandra is described as a lovely and welcoming presence in the House, helping to create an atmosphere we strive for in ‘a home away from home’.

 “It was a surprise when I received the Shining Star award and it is nice to be recognised. I felt humbled to have won the award and I was really touched that my colleagues had nominated me. I have not yet decided where to spend my voucher but I will use it for a treat for myself and my family. I enjoy working at the Southampton House and this made me feel proud of my work and colleagues that I work with.”

Carmel Gallagher, House Assistant

Carmel has been an incredible ambassador for partnership with My Happy Mind, who created a bespoke programme for our Charity to help provide support, education and coping strategies to our families in our Houses, with resources for parents and children.

Carmel created visual displays and house initiatives which resulted in an increase of sign-ups to the programme. She was quickly regarded as the ‘go-to’ for sharing her best practices. Her enthusiasm and energy towards this programme have been inspiring and her passion for supporting our families has been highlighted through the incredible work she has produced. Carmel’s colleagues have emphasises the privilege it is to work with her.

“I was so excited when I heard I received a Shining Star award, it was so lovely to hear comments from staff about how hard I have worked. It boosted my confidence and I felt so appreciated.

I spent my voucher on some summer wear for my holiday to Cyprus. I think the Shining Star awards really make a difference, it is wonderful that the Charity recognises your hard work. As the saying goes – A little praise goes a long way”

Ericka Heron, Community Fundraiser

Ericka has won an award for the impact and energy she has brought to her role as a Community Fundraiser and the positivity she brings to our Southampton House. She has helped to boost the House volunteer programme and will always look to collaborate and join in House events. Ericka is proactive and has helped to build relationships within the community, corporate sponsors and donors in the areas, while also supporting the House team and the families staying in our Southampton House.

After receiving the award, Erica said “It means that I feel part of a bigger team, most of my colleagues are around the country but knowing that the work I do is having a positive impact on the team even if they are miles away makes me feel good. It made me really happy, if I’m being honest, I was having a bad day and felt a bit low and unmotivated but when I found out I had won the Shining Star award it made my day. It made my fiancé’s day as we are going to use the voucher to go out for dinner.”

Anne Sheridan, House Assistant

Anne was our first winner of two Shining Star awards. Anne is upbeat and supportive to her colleagues, being approachable to bounce ideas off, with a solutions-based outcome. Anne was been praised for doing a phenomenal job on her Marcomms ambassador role in the House and keeping the Southampton Facebook schedule organised and up to date and was recognised for being a great representative of the Charity when liaising with external stakeholders.

“I was really overwhelmed to of received it. It means my colleagues know they can rely on me and I’m a good support to my team and anyone else in the charity who I work with. All of my colleagues are so deserving of the award, I feel like I’ve cheated them somehow as I’d already won it beforehand and because even though we’re are a tight team and are always giving each other support and feedback, it means so much to know I have been able to help and support everyone when they’ve needed it.

I think the Shining Star Award is really important for staff morale, when you get that email that says you’ve been nominated and what you’ve been nominated for it’s a really nice feeling. It’s nice to be nice, even if someone has done something little for you, it could mean everything to them to win.”

Teresa Lewis, House Assistant

Teresa has been proactive looking to improve the wellbeing of our families and staff. She was involved in the implementation of MyHappyMind and has recently qualified as a practitioner in Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and held a taster session for all Charity staff, which received fantastic feedback. Teresa is lead of the volunteer programme in our Brighton House and for Random Act of Kindness Day, Teresa made all our volunteers a bookmark and personalised charm to say thank you for their support.

“I was really surprised and proud to find out I’d won a Shing Star Award. It was lovely to be recognised for the work I do, and know my colleagues had took time out to nominate me, especially as I’d only been part of the team for nine months.

I want to put the voucher towards a family meal out, which so far has felt like herding cats, so it may well get spent on sparkly fairy lights instead!”

Nick Turner, House Assistant

Since joining the Charity, showed a real enthusiasm for helping families, embracing our mission and showing a passion for what he does every day. He has taken on different lead areas and is working on innovative ways to add value to these working groups and the House. He’s described as someone with a big heart and smile, always keeping the House fun while being helpful and friendly to colleagues and families.

“Being chosen for the Shining Star award was a surprise. I have worked in many places where everyone felt invisible, so it was nice to be recognised for the work I had done. I haven’t spent my voucher yet as I am in the process of moving to a new flat, but it will go towards some decorations when I finally get to move in.”

Priti Patel, Head of Finance and Data

Priti has been described as a “breath of fresh air” since she arrived at the Charity. She systematically worked through the queries of stakeholders, ensuring communication at all aspects and building relationships between teams through listening and working collaboratively. Priti has made great progress with the Finance department in troubleshooting actions and implementing new processes to benefit the Charity.

 “I joined the Charity five months ago as a temporary cover for the Finance Director but then I was offered the opportunity to stay on permanent as the Head of Finance and Data and there was no hesitation from me in accepting the position. The chance to be part of a supportive community dedicated to helping others resonated quite deeply with me.

When my daughter was one year old she got meningitis, and this led to us being in-between hospitals for over three months. One of the hospital charities provided us with accommodation so we could be near our daughter and to which I am eternally grateful. The Charity fosters a sense of purpose and satisfaction in their work, and I am proud to be part of such an organisation.

To be honest I was pleasantly surprised as I thought I was just doing the job I was hired to do, however receiving the Shining Star Award meant that I was being recognised and appreciated for my hard work and contribution to the charity and it was such a proud moment for me. It has boosted my confidence and motivation to continue striving for excellence in my endeavours. I will spend my vouchers to treat my daughters to a little shopping.”

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