A recent recruit has been hailed for her innovations and work to help lift her colleagues after she won a national award for her hard graft.

Posted by: karin.bond at 1:36 pm on February 23rd, 2024

A recent recruit has been hailed for her innovations and work to help lift her colleagues after she won a national award for her hard graft.

Leah Torr has won the Newcomer of the Year title in the National MyCleaning Awards, which was held in London.

Leah Torr.jpg

She works for CHoICE, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and provides facilities management to all Trust owned sites.

She is based at Sunderland Royal Hospital after joining CHoICE last year as a Trainee Assistant Manager.

Leah is a graduate of the University of Sunderland, where she studied education.

She has previously worked as a Housekeeping Supervisor in an Immigration Removal Centre and at Amazon as a cleaning supervisor, which also involved overseeing its waste and fork lift driving teams.

When she joined CHoICE, she became part of a short-staffed domestic management team, but has used her background to raise morale, bring the team together and find new and better ways of working.

She plays a big part in making new team members feel welcome and has created a training pack for those joining and ensures inclusivity across the board.

She has set up a weekly management drop in session, so the team can call in for a chat about anything they want to raise with a cuppa, as well as a general wellbeing check.

Another key area where she’s made a difference is the information around The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) so the domestic team have the details they need to hand.

The team say she’s also brought her IT and admin skills to the role, making a huge difference.

CHoICE colleague Kim Fraser, who operates the portering helpdesk, was nominated in the Leader of the Year category in the National MyPorter Awards. Sadly, she didn’t collect the title, but leaves her team proud.

 Award photo.jpg

Head of Portering and Security Mark Turner, Kim Fraser, Hotel Service Manager Claire Dodds and Deputy Head of Facilities Rachael Hutchinson at the MyPorter Awards.

Both awards are run by GV Healthcare, which provides support systems to Sunderland Royal Hospital.

CHoICE director Wayne Carr said:

"While we’re disappointed we didn’t do the double and bring both awards home, we are unbelievably proud of both Leah and Kim.

"They do a fantastic job and I hope this shows how valued they are as part of our CHoICE team.

"Well done to Leah for her win and Kim is such a highly regarded member of our porting department. We hope they enjoyed the experience and know what they mean to us as colleagues."

Rachael Hutchinson, is CHoICE’s Deputy Head of Facilities.

She said:

"We are absolutely delighted that Leah won.

"We loved seeing her have that chance to be in the limelight and get the wider recognition about the good work she is doing."

As part of her submission, CHoICE explained Leah’s colleagues describe her as a breath of fresh air, who has given them all a boost and a new excitement for their jobs again. 

She brings an excellent sense of humour to the job and her teammates enjoy their lively discussions and work together well.

Rachael added: “Seeing the positive changes and the work Leah has implemented and achieved in her short time with us, the Newcomer of The Year nomination – and win - is very well deserved.”

Kim started her NHS career in 2004. She has worked as a porter, then post room porter and has worked on the CHoICE portering helpdesk for a decade.

She has seen it go from using a pen and paper to handling more than 400 jobs each day using a computer system, coordinating and allocating jobs to the porters.

She has helped showcase the system they use to others in the NHS and helps the service run smoothly.

Kim is known for taking newcomers under her wing and takes the lead to help train them, as well as looking after the wider team.
Outside of work, Kim played for Sunderland Ladies Rugby Club for 12 years.

Her achievements have include completing the Yorkshire three peaks and the national three peaks, as well as successfully completing the York Marathon, Hadrian Wall Challenge and the Great North Run.  

As part of a group of fundraisers, she has taken part in the Run 4Louis, which supports the Sunderland-based charity as it works to help those who have experienced baby loss.

She’s also helped collect funds for St Benedict’s Hospice, with the group raising more than £9,000 for the cause. 

Next on her list is to help raise funds for a mountain rescue team, after her pointer puppy Franky fell 50ft down a waterfall ravine and was brought to safety by its volunteers.

Claire Dodds, Hotel Service Manager for CHoICE, said:

"Kim is the nucleus within the portering team. Not only does she have the hospital patients at the fore front of her mind, she also shows immense support for her fellow porters. 

"When Kim is on duty, we have no worries, everything runs like clockwork.  She is a star, a team player and doesn’t get angry or lose control – even when we bombard her with a 100 queries. 

"Kim takes this all in her stride and I wouldn’t swap her for the world.

"Kim’s efforts not only benefit the entire portering department, but also set an example and inspire her co-workers to stay proactive. 

"Her willingness to assist others and her commitment to educating and supporting new staff is unequalled.

"She sees how effective teamwork makes a difference, notices when people need extra support and can be relied upon at all times. She notices when the team needs a boost and acts upon it with her unstinting enthusiasm.

"We are grateful for her every single day."


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