Dedicated Derbyshire paramedic receives national award for 'going above and beyond'

Tracy Cunningham.
Tracy Cunningham.

A dedicated Ilkeston paramedic who goes the extra mile for her patients and even set up a homeless shelter over the winter has received a national ambulance award.

Tracy Cunningham was selected to receive the national Outstanding Service award from the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives at their Gala Awards Dinner.

The homeless shelter which Tracy helped set up.

The homeless shelter which Tracy helped set up.

The 52-year-old was nominated by the division’s general manager for always going above and beyond’, both in work and for her community in Ilkeston.

Explaining how she felt when she found out the news, Tracy said: “I had to read the email three times, and I was so shocked. It’s nice to be noticed for making a difference.

“I do everything that I do because I love being a paramedic.”

As well as her professional development and saving lives in her day job, Tracy mentors new staff, coaching and encouraging them throughout the first few years of their career, and offers emotional support to colleagues as a volunteer.

And this winter, Tracy launched a homeless shelter on Christmas Day in conjunction with her church. This shelter provided overnight shelter for 50 people who would otherwise have been sleeping rough in freezing temperatures throughout January and February.

Most impressively, Tracy worked with the council to get 11 of their guests into permanent accommodation.

Tracy said: “The whole project came from a Facebook post from someone about the homeless in Ilkeston, so I commented and said I wanted to help.

“We provided beds, dinner, breakfast and a packed lunch, and people donated new shoes, mobile phones, bicycles, bus tickets, haircuts, foot care, and new clothes. It was all run through donations.

“After years of trying to help homeless people on the road, I knew I needed to do something.”

Tracy decided that she has wanted to be a paramedic when she saw an ambulance crew performing CPR on a patient who had collapsed in the street near her school in Heanor.

However, on leaving school, Tracy joined the airport police at East Midlands Airport. It wasn’t until she was 35 that she made the brave decision to join EMAS as a direct entry ambulance technician, based at Ilkeston Ambulance Station.