Chris Willmott, editor of the Solihull Observer and the official sponsor of the Local Hero Award, had the pleasure – and difficult task – of judging the category.
"We had so many amazing entries and inspiring stories of people who go truly above and beyond to improve the lives of others," explained Chris. "Simply choosing a shortlist was difficult enough, but then to choose a winner from our fabulous finalists involved serious deliberation. I was, however, delighted to choose the inspirational Millie Skinner as the winner of the Local Hero Award."
Sadly, Millie was not well on the day of the awards, so Chris went to visit her at St Giles’ Nursing Home to present her with her award and certificate. Millie was joined by family, friends and fellow members of the Friends of Solihull Hospital for the very proud occasion for all involved. Chris tells her story below.
photo credit: Jon Mullis
by Chris Willmott, Editor, Solihull Observer
Millie’s story is a story of 63 years of dedication – dedication that saw her still heavily involved in her fundraising cause until she was well over one hundred years old. Turn back the clock to 1953 when Millie was the Matron at Solihull Hospital. The hospital desperately needed a lift to move patients to the upper floors of the hospital. The NHS was unable to fund the £9,000 needed, so Millie, undeterred and determined, decided that rather than sit back and moan she would step up and do something about it.
Millie, with the help of a handful of the hospital’s doctors and nurses decided to set up the Friends of Solihull Hospital Association to raise the money for the lift themselves.The association, under her guidance and leadership, was a huge success. The £9,000 was subsequently raised and the lift was installed – to the delight and eternal gratitude of staff and patients at the hospital.
But Millie and the team didn’t stop there. In the decades that followed, she and the Friends of Solihull Hospital, went on to raise a staggering £2 million plus to fund vital equipment for the hospital.
Over the past 60 years Millie has held a number of positions with the Friends – including Chairman and President. Even at the age of 101, she was still involved in monthly meetings, promoting the Friends at every opportunity and even selling raffle tickets for the cause. Her active association with the organisation only coming to an enforced end just last year when she moved into a care home.
For me, Millie Skinner, is the epitome of a local hero. A lady who has dedicated her life to caring for people – not only through her work, but in her spare time too. A lady of real gumption.
Her decision to set up the Friends of Solihull Hospital Association all those years ago and to hit the fundraising trail to purchase the much-needed lift for the hospital not only changed the lives of patients and staff at the time, but also everyone who used and worked at the hospital in the following decades.
To oversee £2million pounds of fundraising over a 60-plus year association shows true dedication and a passion for the cause. The hospital equipment she and her associates have been able to fund has such a far-reaching impact it is hard to quantify. But to be able to select Millie as the recipient of the Local Hero award hopefully goes some way to recognise her fantastic and inspirational efforts.
I was delighted to have chosen Millie as this year’s Solihull Together Local Hero. A truly worthy winner.
Congratulations Millie – and thank you for everything you have done for the people of Solihull.