Editor's Choice

At BMI, we frequently come across people who are doing some amazing things in healthcare. Editor's Choice is our opportunity to share with you some of the people and organisations that motivate and inspire us.

Breast cancer now

Who have you chosen: 
Breast Cancer Now, the largest breast cancer charity in the UK, works with communities to raise money to fund research to cure breast cancer. They are working on an ambitious life-saving project that aims to stop women dying from breast cancer by 2050. Men of course, can be affected by breast cancer too, so it is important for men and women to be breast aware. Breast Cancer Now has an app
Breast Check Now” that reminds you to check your breasts regularly.

What inspired you about them?
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK and 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. This statistic is shocking but Breast Cancer Now are hoping to change this for the better through raising awareness and funding research.

It can be frightening to think about breast cancer, but to ignore it can be deadly. The journey for a successful recovery starts before the cancer itself.

To be breast aware and know what your breasts look and feel like is the first step to early detection and happy life after breast cancer.

I have met some incredible women who have survived breast cancer, they are strong, beautiful, feminine and grateful for life. Some of them have changed careers and dedicate part of their time to help raise awareness of the importance of early detection. Organisations such as Breast Cancer Now are open windows for you and me tomorrow if we were to face breast cancer. 

Vanessa Olivo

Vanessa Olivo
National Marketing Executive

My Choice:

British Heart Foundation

Who have you chosen: 
The British Heart Foundation is one of the biggest charities and the largest independent funder of cardiovascular research. Coronary heart disease is the UK's single biggest killer, but British Heart Foundation is working to fight against it.

What inspired you about them?
My mum was born with congenital heart disease and back in 2003 contracted a virus that attacks the weakest part of your body. It attacked her heart and made her critically ill. As well as this, in 2014, my aunty (my mum’s sister) sadly passed away after childbirth as she had Peripartum Cardiomyopathy, which wasn’t diagnosed until just before my cousin was born.

Although my mum’s heart condition was detected from birth, unfortunately my aunt’s developed during her pregnancy and wasn’t detected.

I really do feel that we take our hearts for granted and sometimes forget about them because we can’t see them. Your heart is crucially responsible for just about everything that gives your body life so it’s important to get your heart checked for any defects or conditions, particularly if you have any symptoms.

Along with their research and people’s donations the British Heart Foundation have helped to transform the lives of people living with heart and circulatory conditions, as well as preventing them.

They’re always holding events that anyone can take part in, including social events, bike rides, runs, walks and other challenges to help raise money for life-saving research. You can join in too! Find out more about the British Heart Foundation and what they do. Feel free to donate.

Jessica Higginbottom

Jess Higginbottom
Digital Content Editor

My Choice:


Who have you chosen: 
Rett UK is an organisation which provide support, information and practical advice to families deal with the challenges Rett syndrome presents.

What inspired you about them?
My wife, Michelle, and I first became aware of the charity when our daughter Cerys was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome in March last year. We are in awe of the work Rett UK does. Since its humble beginnings as a group of 8 or 9 families, it has grown to a membership of over 1300 families across the UK and Europe and remains the only UK wide, independent Rett syndrome charity. Rett syndrome is a neurodevelopmental genetic disorder that affects girls almost exclusively. It's characterised by normal early growth and development followed by a slowing of development, loss of purposeful use of the hands, distinctive hand movements, slowed brain, problems with walking, seizures, and intellectual disability.

Rett UK strives to be at the end of the phone when a family calls - whether it’s for someone who is newly diagnosed or someone dealing with the everyday challenges that Rett syndrome presents.

Without any government funding to supply these services - that are frequently referred to as a lifeline - keeping them going is a constant challenge. So we have begun to raise funds for the charity.

Many parents will have had a similar experience to us: the onset of regression is sudden and leaves the sufferer with the inability to perform basic motor functions, severely disabling them and interfering with every body movement. Cerys has no speech and no physical way of communicating her needs as traditional therapies are dependent on the use of the child’s hands. This path has led us – and others - to Eye gaze technology, these devices give girls with Rett independent access to their “voice” by capitalizing on their eye movements that they naturally use to socially engage and connect with people. Essentially, their eyes represent their index fingers for pointing. These devices are very expensive so funding a purchase is a real challenge.

At the minute we are raising £12,500 to buy a Tobii Dynavox I-series speech generating device controlled through eye gaze interaction and donating 25% of everything we raise to Rett UK. We hope you are inspired by the great work Rett UK does and if you’d like to support us – and Rett – please visit https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/CerysEyeGazeFundraiserwithRettUK.

James Prendergast

James Prendergast
Category Manager

My Choice:

  • For more information visit Rett UK

Beating bowel cancer

Who have you chosen: Beating Bowel Cancer is a support and campaigning charity for everyone affected by bowel cancer.

What inspired you about them?
The signs and symptoms of bowel cancer remain somewhat of a taboo. Bowel cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage due to people feeling embarrassed or shy and as so put off seeing their GP or a specialist. It is the 4th most common cancer in the UK but the 2nd biggest killer so it is crucial that people are aware of the signs and symptoms and seek a medical opinion if they are concerned.

Beating Bowel Cancer does a fantastic job at raising the profile of bowel cancer throughout the UK, helping to ensure that people know the signs and symptoms of the disease through their endless campaigning and fundraising efforts. Beating Bowel Cancer’s current Hidden Heartache Appeal does not only raise the profile of the disease but is exemplary of the support they give to those affected by bowel cancer, whether that’s the patient or their loved ones. Beating Bowel Cancer provides a wealth of information, online forums, and clinical, emotional and practical support and advice for those going through an incredibly frightening journey.

After losing a family friend at the age of only 29 to bowel cancer, I am inspired by Beating Bowel Cancer’s valuable work and only hope their awareness message reaches as many people as possible to ensure more people are bowel cancer aware.

Lauren Swankie
National Product Manager

My Choice:

Cash for kids

Who have you chosen: I support Cash for Kids because as a PR and Marketing professional I think it’s great to see (and hear) the media, through local radio, being used to raise money for good causes. In my home city of Manchester, it’s the radio stations Key 103 and Magic 1152, which use the power of local radio to reach out to their generous communities and raise millions for worthy causes, helping disabled and disadvantaged children.

What inspired you about them?
Every child deserves a great start in life and helping those who need a little extra support provides vital services to families and communities. Cash for Kids fund sensory play areas, support to children on the autistic spectrum, Christmas gifts for disadvantaged children and many more.

They have imaginative fundraisers such as the ‘Superhero Day’ on various dates in April and May (‘Batman v Superman’ anyone?) and they provide great opportunities for corporate as well as personal involvement. I’m supporting my colleagues from BMI’s Alexandra Hospital who are running the
Manchester 10k but there’s a Cash for Kids programme of local initiatives wherever there’s a Bauer Media independent radio station from Metro radio in Newcastle to Northside Radio in Aberdeen.

So if you are inspired by Editor’s Choice and want to give to a very worthwhile cause then take a look at the Just Giving page of the team of runners from the ‘Alex’, including Consultants, Physios and even our Finance Director or check out the Cash for Kids website for a radio station and opportunity to support them in your city or region.
Sally Sykes

Sally Sykes
National Director of PR and Marketing

My Choice:

The Kindness Offensive

Who have you chosen: Khalsa Aid is an international non-profit aid and relief organisation founded on the principles of selfless service and universal love. The charity has volunteers in the UK, North America and Asia, and has provided relief assistance to victims of disasters, wars, and other tragic events around the world.

What inspired you about them?
Khalsa Aid was founded in 1999 by Ravi Singh when he saw countless news reports showing the devastation the war in Kosovo was bringing to helpless people. At the time Ravi was preparing for a religious celebration in Berkshire, England, where a lot of food was donated by the local community, yet just 1700 miles away, people were ‘fighting for a loaf of bread’.

Inspired by the notion of ‘wellbeing of all’, Ravi took action. Within just 2 weeks with the help of his friends, he had collected donations of food, money and more and was in a convoy of 2 trucks and a van delivering the aid to Albania. Since then, Khalsa Aid has been helping with any situation it can.

Our health and wellbeing can often be taken for granted, and sadly, so many in the world suffer due to circumstances outside of their control. Khalsa Aid’s slogan is “Recognise the human race as one”, which reminds me those of us who are fortunate should do what we can to help those in need, no matter where they are or who they are. Volunteering, donating, or any acts of serving our communities, no matter how small, really do add up and go a long way to help those who really need it. We should all take inspiration from Khalsa Aid and its volunteers and ask ourselves, what can we do to help fellow people in need?

Amar Sanghera

Amar Sanghera
Digital CRM Manager

My Choice:


Who have you chosen: FORWARD. A charity fighting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) both in the UK and Africa. Their vision is a world where women and girls live in dignity, are healthy, have choices and equal opportunities.

What inspired you about them?
Listening to a podcast interview where the founder of FORWARD was highlighting the everyday risk thousands of young girls living in the UK still face. 60,000 girls under 15 are at risk in the UK, and 137,000 girls and women in the UK are living with the consequences*.

I was shocked to realise how close to home this really is, and really pleased to know someone is pushing to change laws and lobby government to protect these girls.

In the UK FORWARD works through community engagement, advocacy and youth activism and government lobbying to end these practices.

They also work with schools and teachers to identify at risk children and provide support and education.

It's a subject that is hard to talk about for many, illegal and yet still practiced in lots of countries. We shouldn't be afraid to speak out.

*(Equality Now 2014)

Sophie Hudson

Sophie Hudson
Business Development Manager

My Choice:

  • For more information visit FORWARD

Kids Out

Who have you chosen: I have chosen KidsOut. KidsOut gives disadvantaged children positive experiences to support them becoming future members of our society and workforce.

What inspired you about them? Just imagine being a child who has; never received a gift, had a brand new toy, never walked on a beach, and been to a theme park. But you have lived every day in fear of abuse and cried yourself to sleep each night.

On average each year over 20,000 children flee domestic violence and seek sanctuary in a Women’s Aid Refuge. KidsOut provides new toys and a fun day out for the children, most of whom arrive at the Refuge with nothing other than the clothes on their back.

For children living with domestic violence, home is a place of fear and terror rather than the safe and secure place it should be.

KidsOut, in conjunction with the Women’s Aid Federation, provides them with a box of brand new toys to help bring stability and fun into their lives when they need it most. The majority of these children have either witnessed or personally suffered serious abuse and/or violence.

Each Toy Box is filled with games to play, books to read and a teddy to cuddle which they can call their own. It gives children a sense of normality, making the world seem a kinder place where someone cares. It helps them settle in and make new friends, as they can invite other children home to play with their toys.

Steve Othen

Steve Othen
Head of Strategic Projects
Recruitment & Employment Confederation

My Choice:

  • For more information visit KidsOut

Children's Food Trust

Who have you chosen: Children’s Food Trust – a charity on a mission to get every child eating well through teaching cooking skills, which can help to improve their health.

What inspired you about them?
Ever since Jaime Oliver tried to change school dinners on his TV show, I’ve been intrigued by the link between nutrition and health & education outcomes.

You also don’t have to work in the healthcare sector to know that poor diet and obesity is linked to numerous health complications and long term conditions, all of which cost the NHS a lot of time and money.

As well as educating children about good nutrition, they also teach them how to cook, giving them skills - and helping to form healthy habits - that will last a lifetime. This simple vision of prevention rather than cure could save lives, and take some of the pressure off the NHS. Inspiring stuff!

Chris Rogers

Chris Rogers
Business Development Manager

My Choice:

Anthony Nolan

Who have you chosen: Anthony Nolan is a charity dedicated to saving the lives of people with blood cancer, they aren't just raising funds and awareness for blood cancers, they also encourage people to do something active. By joining their register you agree to donate your stem cells which could literally save someone's life.

What inspired you about Anthony Nolan? My dad was diagnosed with Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer as so many others are each year. For some, there is a cure, there are treatments available for many types of blood cancer but they need the help of kind strangers to donate their stem cells.

Whenever a patient with blood cancer needs a stem cell transplant, Anthony Nolan search their register for a genetic match. That patient can then undergo the treatment they need and that match could save their life.

Anthony Nolan do great work raising awareness of blood cancers and the importance of donating, they raise money for more research to make stem cell transplants more successful in the future.

There are so many ways you can help Anthony Nolan on their mission to save the lives of people with blood cancer, whether you donate stem cells or money. What’s inspiring about this charity for me is that your help can help now, you can potentially save the life of someone living with blood cancer today, and to me there is nothing better than that.

Natalie Mallee

Natalie Mallee
Digital Marketing Executive

My Choice:

Canine Partners

Who have you chosen: Canine Partners provide assistance dogs to people who need help with tasks that may be difficult, painful or impossible to perform due to disability. The canine partner can provide assistance in tasks such as pressing buttons and switches, opening & closing doors, help getting undressed, loading washing machines and much more! The canine partner also provides that special companionship and affection that is so unique to dogs.

What inspired you about Canine Partners?
These dogs are specially chosen for the program to become an assistance dog due to their temperament and intelligence and having seen the puppies in training I never thought a 1 year old dog could be so clever!

The job of training a puppy is carried out by volunteers who get to look after the dog and train them from birth with some of the basic tasks they will require before they move on to more advanced training.

Having also heard what opportunities and confidence an assistance dog can give someone who is disabled is incredibly inspiring. It’s amazing to see how the bond that forms between the owner and dog, as they are not just providing the owner with a new lease of life but they also become a companion who wants to help them.

I think Canine Partners put it best on their website: "Whilst out exercising and playing games in the park, or working in the supermarket and handing over their partner's purse at the checkout, the extraordinary canine partner is a catalyst for conversation, meeting new people and increasing their partner’s opportunity for social interaction. You stop being 'that disabled person in a wheelchair' and start being 'the person with the really cool dog'."

Mike Gosling

Mike Gosling
Digital Marketing Manager

My Choice:

Tree of Hope
Who have you chosen: Tree of Hope is a small charity that helps fund, through grants, young children who need access to specialist surgery abroad, which may not be readily available in the UK.

What inspired you about Tree of Hope? My parent's next door neighbour, four year old Ollie, is a cerebral palsy patient, needed Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery but could not access it here in the UK.

The surgery would give him a real chance of being able to walk – its life changing stuff. His mum and dad registered Ollie with Tree of Hope and launched Operation Ollie, which set out to raise £50k with sponsored activities such as long distance bike rides, 24hr tennis matches, runs and swims, curry nights and a fundraising ball in order to subsidise the grant. The whole community got involved.

Early in 2015, less than a year after deciding to register with Tree of Hope for a grant, they were approved for surgery by Dr. Park, a surgeon specialising in SDR surgery at the St Louis Children's Hospital, in Missouri, USA. In April this year, young Ollie underwent SDR surgery and four days later took his first tentative steps with what he calls his 'new legs'.

The charity raises funds to be readily available in the form of grants for families like Ollie's to be able to access treatment quickly and without delay. Just a quick read of the testimonials on their website is inspiring.

It was an emotional moment when I was sent a video of Ollie taking his first tentative steps, four days after surgery. I will be forever thankful to Tree of Hope and I'll always support them.

Janes Stocks

Jane Stocks
National Product Manager

My Choice:

Operation Smile

Who have you chosen: Operation Smile is an international children's medical charity, working with a team of dedicated medical volunteers who provide safe, effective reconstructive surgery for children born with facial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate.

In the UK children receive this reconstructive surgery before the age of one. Sadly this is not the case in many parts of the world where poor access to healthcare can lead to people having to live with the condition into adulthood.

For just around £150 per operation Operation Smile can literally give a smile to a child.

What inspired you about Operation Smile?
What could be more inspiring?

Rosie McCarry

Rosey McCarry
Charging and Enquiry Lead
BMI The Highfield Hospital

My Choice:

The Kindness Offensive
Who have you chosen: The Kindness Offensive. They're a group of people who carry out, selfless, random acts of kindness to benefit others. No money is involved, they don't need it. They simply persuade people to donate things or time for free that benefits others who need things, or time, for free. Their strapline says it all, "Think Free".

What inspired you about The Kindness Offensive? I love the idea of getting stuff done and money not getting in the way. I also love the anonymity of it all. It's all about doing acts of kindness rather than basking in the glory of thanks.

The Kindness Offensive has a free book 'shop' in North London where anyone can help themselves to whatever you want; they keep the stock levels up thanks to people dropping off unwanted books.

Someone won a double decker bus in a competition, so they've renovated it and take old people out on day trips, for free. At Christmas they persuade toy companies to give them toys for free. They all meet in a freezing warehouse over a couple of days, and wrap the toys up with festive paper (donated by someone, for free); and then deliver the gifts to kids in children's wards at various hospitals and give them away to the kids.

They've done some fun videos and TED Talks too, so give them a Google when you have a spare moment. They're very inspiring.

Anyone can be a part of the Kindness Offensive, volunteers are always welcome. Or you could just do something nice yourself, like paying for the lunch of the person behind you in the queue and quietly walking away. I wonder if you'll ever be behind a member of the Kindness Offensive in the queue…?

Janes Stocks

Jane Stocks
National Product Manager

My Choice:

IBM Watson
Who have you chosen: IBM's Watson, a cognitive computer system (what we sometimes call artificial intelligence) for their ambition to apply advanced computing technology to the healthcare sector.

What inspired you about IBM Watson? Watson can process millions of data points, understands natural language and make evidence based hypotheses, in real-time - so IBM put it on Jeopardy, and American game show! My mom works for IBM and was part of the project team that helped get Watson ready to compete on Jeopardy in 2011. Watson not only competed on the show against two former champions, but won, and I was intrigued by its technology and capabilities.

IBM has investigated different sectors in which it can apply Watson's unique processing power, and I was inspired to hear about their recent venture into healthcare.

In 2013, IBM and Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center began working together to train Watson to help doctors make cancer treatment choices and assist in vital research. Watson can analyse massive amounts of clinical, forensic and research data to help doctors deliver quicker answers to complex treatment questions, which enriches the lives of patients.

Technology should enhance our lives, and I find it truly inspiring to see this in action.

Carolyn Watson

Carolyn Watson
Business Development Manager

My Choice:
IBM on Watson technology


Who have you chosen: Checkemlads, was founded by Phil Morris to help increase the awareness of testicular cancer, after he was diagnosed with the illness in 2003.

What inspired you about checkemlads? I recently saw Phil Morris appeared on a TV show called Surprise Surprise. He was nominated by a lady who'd sadly lost her young son to testicular cancer, in recognition of how she and her family had benefited from his advice.

This got me thinking about my dad and my brothers, because I don't think the men that I know are as comfortable taking about very personal, health-related matters as my female friends.

So it was refreshing for me to hear Phil's story in a way that demystified this, as he explained in his own words what he has gone through.

If, like me, you know how your men can be about their health then I recommend reading, and sharing Phil' story with those close to you.

Valerie Alvarez

Valérie Alvarez
Digital Content Manager

My Choice:


Who have you chosen: Hellomynameis is a campaign created by Dr Kate Granger, terminally-ill with cancer, to remind healthcare staff of the importance of human connection in the provision of care.

What inspired you about Hellomynameis? Dr Kate found that many of the staff looking after her didn't introduce themselves before delivering her care. For Kate the introduction is "all about making a human connection, beginning a therapeutic relationship and building trust."

It's only when you are a patient, or when you talk to patients, you realise how alone and vulnerable you can feel when your health is not 100%

I'm lucky enough to have met amazing healthcare professionals through my job and know they strive to make a difference and truly care about other people, but are so busy, so occupied with the task at hand that they might not automatically remember the simple gesture of introducing themselves.

I believe it's important that all patients feels respected, safe and secure at a time of high stress. If, I am ever admitted to a hospital I'd like to hope that the nursing staff take a minute to say hello, and remember how much value a simple gesture can have to us.

Sam Flew

Sam Flew
National Head of Sales & Marketing

My Choice:

Who have you chosen: Coppafeel, they're a charity with the purpose of increasing awareness of cancers amongst young people, promoting the understanding of breast cancer through education and awareness.

What Inspired you about Coppafeel? Kristin Hallenga, Coppafeel's Founder, presented at an event I attended last year. She shared the story of her recent self, that is to say the story from discovering a lump in her chest, that was initially dismissed as probably hormonal, to being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at just 23. There isn't a stage 5.

Kris, by sharing her very real, and scary experience, highlighted how unaware a lot of us probably are on the risks of young people developing very serious illnesses. Her story, told, it's got to be said, with an enviable good nature, was a very poignant, significant moment in the day, that reinforced for me that what we do at BMI, is, always, only, about people. Very real, courageous, inspiring people like Kris.

So I would urge anyone who has a sister, a daughter, a young friend of either gender, to spend even just a few minutes on Coppafeel to read Kris' story, and see some of the great work they're doing to help young people.

Solomon Degia

Solomon Degia
Head of Digital

My Choice:

Street Child
Who have you chosen: I've chosen Street Child. They create educational opportunities for children in West Africa, and are currently building a school in memory of Kate Gross, who passed away recently.

What inspired you about Street Child? Street Child began its work in Sierra Leone in 2008, considered at the time to be the poorest country in the world, championing that every child has the right to a safe and secure home, and the empowerment of children through education. They provide support to everyone from street children, to exploited sex workers, amputees, and their families.

Kate Gross was an inspiration to many. She was private secretary to two prime ministers, the CEO of Africa Governance Initiative, a mother of two, but was then diagnosed with Colon Cancer at just 34.

Sadly, she passed away on Christmas Day 2014, but not before leaving behind an incredibly touching memoir, Late Fragments, a book not about death by cancer, but about the joys of life.

Street Child was one of her favourite charities, so, that they're building a school in her name is something I find extremely moving and would like to bring to people's attention.

Heather Hancock

Heather Hancock
Group Sales & Marketing Director

My Choice: