Remarkable Cumbria Man Receives National Honour

Ray

A remarkable man from Cumbria who turned a traumatic life event around to go on and help others in the same situation has been recognised with a national honour.

Raymond Cannings, of Whitehaven, has been given a British Citizen Award for his services to volunteering and charitable giving.

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The British Citizen Awards (BCAs) were launched in January 2015, to recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society. BCAs are awarded twice annually, and recognise ‘everyday’ people whose achievements may otherwise be overlooked.

Ray, now aged 52, suffered a stroke when he was just 46.  Prior to his stroke, he was a pipe fitter – a job he had to give up due to the health issues the stroke left him with.

After battling back to better health, Ray now volunteers at the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Scheme’s Speech After Stroke Scheme – the very scheme that helped him in his darkest time. He has volunteered at the group for the past two-and-a-half years and attends several group sessions on a weekly and monthly basis. During that time, he has been keen to attend courses to help in in his voluntary role.

Nothing is ever too much trouble for Ray and he helps people in any way he can. He has even taken a scheme member who could not drive to hospital appointments in the past.

He was also instrumental in identifying the need for and setting up a brand new group solely for male stroke survivors, which allows men to meet up and chat freely about their experiences. The group has been a great success and is proving very popular.

Ray’s attitude and own personal story is an inspiration to those stroke survivors he helps and it often spurs them on with their own recovery efforts, particularly in the young stroke survivor group, where he is a real asset. The group’s success is often attributed to the relaxed and supportive atmosphere that Ray has been instrumental in creating.

Ray, is one of 30 medallists who will be honoured at a prestigious ceremony on July 6, at the Palace of Westminster. All BCA recipients have positively impact society undertaking various activities in support of a number of causes. Each will receive a Medal of Honour, inscribed with the words ‘For the Good of the Country’. Medallists are also invited to use the initials BCA after their name.

Speaking about his nomination, Ray said: “I’m very happy to be receiving the award but I don’t really like a lot of fuss and I don’t do what I do for any recognition. I volunteer at the stroke club as my way of giving something back because it was a fantastic support to me in the early stages after I had my stroke.

“I was a healthy 46-year-old until it happened and my life changed overnight – and the lives of my family. I’m still not fully recovered. My family and friends have been a great support but sometimes you just feel as though you are on your own and you need something like the stroke club to help you through it.

“I’m happy to volunteer there and talk to people to help them – and I get something out it too.”

The awards are in partnership with customer experience management company, InMoment, and are supported by the world’s largest optical retailer, Specsavers; one of the largest property and leisure management, development and regeneration companies in the UK, Places for People; leading ethical law firm Irwin Mitchell; the UK and Europe’s leading palletised freight distribution company, Pall-Ex, owned by BCAs Patron Hilary Devey; and specialist marketing, PR and communications agency, Lime Marketing – who each had representatives at the assessment day and will be presenting the awards in July.

Ray was nominated for a BCA by Speech After Stroke Scheme volunteer coordinator, Alison Tams, who said: “Ray stands out as award winning as not only has he overcome his own health issues but he has turned an extremely traumatic life event around and now is using his own experience to positively help others who are in similar situations.

“Stroke happens, for the most part, without warning and can have devastating effects so Ray is meeting people at one of the worst and most frightening times of their lives. It takes a very special kind of person to be able to revisit their own difficulties in order to help others and Ray does this willingly with an honestly and empathy that is humbling to see.”

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