Finding a way to say thank you

TWO brothers caught up in the accident involving an inflatable in Woking Park 18 months ago have been working hard as a thank you to the NHS for its work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ehsan Anwar-Khan, now 14, and Raif, 11, were treated in hospital after the incident that night, giving them a first-hand insight into the work of health service.

A deluge of rainbow pictures drawn by the children of Woking to say thank you to NHS staff

They have been helping their mother, Dr Nahdia Akbar, prepare NHS wellness boxes for staff in Surrey.

Nahdia is a GP partner at Southview Medical Practice in Woking, where one of the practices was converted to a COVID-19 hot hub.

“I have been co-ordinating the wellness boxes and my sons have worked incredibly hard on this,” Nahdia said. “They both know only too well how hard the NHS works, having been in the inflatable accident, and they wanted to do something to recognise not only what the NHS is doing during this pandemic, but what it has done for them before and will continue to do.

“We have just donated 100 boxes to St Peter’s, and we have dropped off 50 boxes to Frimley Park. We will be donating a further 100 boxes to Royal Surrey in Guildford, as well as staff at the Woking Covid hot hub. Then I think we’ll stop there for the moment!”

THANK YOU – Nahdia, right, and her sons Ehsan and Raif present NHS wellness boxes to nurses at St Peter’s Hospital

Nahdia has been a doctor for almost 20 years and has worked as a GP in Woking for just over 10. Originally from Lancashire, Nahdia moved here when she married as her husband’s family have lived in Woking most of their lives.

“I was part of the team that helped to establish the Woking hot hub, and currently work there, where all potential Covid patients from Woking locality practices are seen, so we can try to reduce the potential spread of Covid.

“Our staff have had to work tirelessly and adapt to this new way of working.  I am so grateful to them, they really make me proud to be part of such an amazing team.

“I wanted to do something because I know only too well how our NHS works tirelessly day in, day out, and the strain this pandemic has put on an already-struggling service.

“I wanted to do my bit to help resilience within a service which I believe is the backbone of our society. I know how far something as simple as a thank you can go in making all the effort worthwhile and feeling appreciated by those we serve.

“Working on the front-line myself, I was helping my patients but I could see the strain my NHS colleagues were under and was keen to do something for them. 

“The NHS wellness boxes was an initiative set up in London by a friend, and I could see the good they were doing in their area, so I offered to co-ordinate the response in Surrey.

The contents of a wellness box delivered to nurses at St Peter’s Hospital

“This team is made up of volunteers such as myself, and we had just the idea to get us started and then had to arrange everything else ourselves. With my sons I set about contacting various companies, requesting donations for the boxes.

“I had some help from a few friends also, particularly Nikki Langston, director of DMA signs of Leatherhead, who kindly donated all the boxes, as well as the labels, leaflets and also bottles of water and biscuits.

“This let me focus on generating donations to go in the boxes. We couldn’t have done it without  the generosity of Morrisons in Woking, who gave  hand creams, hand washes, cereal bars and mini cereal boxes, and drinks cartons; Brown Bag Crisps; Missfits Nutrition (protein bars); Bounce Foods (protein balls); and iQ Dental in West Byfleet (toothpaste).

“And a special word to the children of Woking for drawing thank you pictures to put in the boxes, and to friends and family donations directly or via a JustGiving page, which raised over £600.”

Nahdia’s own experience of the pandemic has mirrored the hard work and sacrifice which has driven the NHS in the past few months.

“It has been exceptionally hard for my staff and our patients as almost overnight we had to change completely the way we worked and provide a different kind of service to our patients.

“But what this highlighted in Woking is how well individual GP practices have come together and worked to provide the safest possible service for all our patients in a unified approach. It wasn’t easy, but we worked together at speed to make this happen for the benefit of our community.”

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