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Belfast Trust names recipients of the Mercy Medal and Eileen Ferguson Award 2022

20th January 2023

Mercy Awards Winners at the Presentation

Belfast Trust is delighted to announce Bernie Hillen has been named the recipient of the Mercy Medal Award 2022 and Tony McDonagh as the inaugural winner of the Eileen Ferguson Award.

The adjudication panel selected Bernie and Tony following their nominations earlier this year by their colleagues in the Trust.

The Mercy Medal is awarded to a member of staff working in the Mater Hospital whose personal conduct and service reflects the wonderful legacy of the Mercy Sisters and the values that underpin their vocation set by the example of Catherine McAuley.

Bernie Hillen, this years’ winner, is a Ward Sister in the Emergency Department at the Mater Hospital. Bernie trained as a Nurse in the Mater Hospital under the guidance of the sisters of Mercy. She has worked in the Emergency Department since completion of her training and has been Lead Nurse/Ward Manager for the majority of this time. Bernie has made a considerable contribution to serving the patient population of North Belfast during her 40 years of nursing in the Mater Hospital.

This year was the introduction of the Eileen Ferguson Award. The Award was donated by Eileen’s family in her memory. Eileen was a Trustee of the Mater Hospital Young Philanthropist Fund and a highly valued member of a pastoral team providing administrative support in the Mater Hospital for many years.

This year, Tony McDonagh received the Eileen Ferguson Award. Tony retired from his position as Head of Catering Services in 2022, following 38 years of service within the catering service. Tony’s colleagues said when nominating him that his compassion and enthusiasm for supporting his catering team and colleagues has never faltered. Throughout his 38 years, he is always the first to offer help and support to all service areas and has built great relationships to help the Trust achieve objectives.

The Eileen Ferguson Award will be presented every two years, recognising and celebrating the outstanding contribution of the support staff in the Mater Hospital, to a member of staff nominated by their colleagues.

Speaking at the awards presentation, Brenda Creaney, Executive Director of Nursing and User Experience in Belfast Trust, said: “There’s a real buzz and excitement as everyone celebrates the two awards today, the Mercy Medal and the Eileen Ferguson Award.

“The Mercy Medal, first presented in 2006, illustrates the values of the Sisters of Mercy and their founder, Catherine McAuley. The Team here are really pleased that we have managed to get the awards back up and running. I’m delighted to say that the Mercy Medal was presented to Bernie Hillen, it is such a tribute to her long and illustrious career.”

“The Eileen Ferguson Award is in memory of our former colleague Eileen, who sadly passed away some years ago. Her family wanted an award that recognised Eileen and support staff in the Mater Hospital. I’m delighted that this award was given to Tony now at the end of his career.”

Belfast Trust Chief Executive, Dr Cathy Jack also made a special presentation to Archbishop Noel Treanor. Archbishop Treanor received an honorary Mercy Medal for his role as Trustee at the Mater Hospital before he leaves his position as Bishop of Down and Connor having been appointed as an Apostolic Nuncio to the European Union by Pope Francis.

Speaking at the presentation Dr Cathy Jack thanked Archbishop Treanor for his leadership and advice over the years. She said: “We owe you a deep sense of gratitude. Over the years, your leadership, your support and your prayers have helped encourage us through some of the darkest days and longer nights we have had to face.”