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PM Recognises Manchester Volunteer Bringing Music to Intensive Care Units

Helen Ashley Taylor PhotoPrime Minister Theresa May has given Helen Ashley Taylor the Points of Light Award for her volunteer work bringing live, therapeutic music into ICUs in Manchester and beyond through the ICU Hear Project, run by Music In Hospitals in collaboration with Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Helen Ashley Taylor was part of team driving the 'ICU Hear' project which was pioneered at Manchester Royal Infirmary. The team included Adult Critical Care Follow Up Lead Natalie Mason and Adult Critical Care Matron Donna Cummings.

The journey began when Helen met Natalie at a local support group for patients who had experienced a stay in Intensive Care as a result of illness or injury. During a difficult time in ICU herself, Helen recollected a moment of respite when she briefly heard singing from a TV and the two discussed the benefits of music therapy. With this in mind, and realising that others reported a similar experience, Helen approached Music In Hospitals (where she had previously volunteered for years) and together they set up ICU Hear, which recruits musicians to play for ICU patients, having received their consent.  After a successful pilot at Manchester Royal Infirmary, Helen now contributes to a working group including a team of consultants who are planning to research the positive impact music can have on patients' physical health. There are plans to roll out the ICU-Hear project across every intensive care unit in the UK that is interested.

Helen is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.

In a personal letter to Helen, Prime Minister Theresa May said:

"You are harnessing the extraordinary power of music to support patients and their families during their time in intensive care. You should be enormously proud of the 'ICU Hear' project you have set up with 'Music In Hospitals'."

Helen said:

"It is an honour to receive this volunteering award and I accept it on behalf of every single person who has given time to this project. It is also recognition for the Intensive Care Unit staff at Manchester Royal Infirmary and Stepping Hill hospitals who have gone above and beyond their duties to enable this project to happen, the staff at the charity Music in Hospitals as well as the charity's large team of volunteers, the funders who have supported the project and the superb professional musicians who have performed so sensitively and empathetically to critically ill patients and their families - bringing moments of calm and relief at some of the most difficult and distressing times in people's lives.

"It is the wide level of co-operation on this project that has been truly inspiring. The collaboration of former patient input, NHS nursing staff, the charity Music in Hospitals, volunteers and musicians has proved to be a winning combination enabling the intensive care unit experience to be transformed. A small idea quickly became a much larger vision that has attracted interest from all over the world. Thank you to everyone in this team who has made the vision a reality."

Helen is the 658th winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA and was first established by President George H. W. Bush. Over 5,000 US Points of Light have been awarded and both President George H. W. Bush and President Barack Obama have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK, which honours shining examples of volunteering across the country.

Regardless of whether it's a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Point of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.