Wayne Cunningham, a volunteer for the Spinal Unit Recreational Fund (S.U.R.F.), has received a nomination for the 2023 BBC Radio Leeds Making a Difference Award in the volunteer category.

S.U.R.F. stands as a distinctive organisation led by individuals who have directly encountered spinal cord injuries. Their focus is solely on collaborating with the Regional Spinal Unit at Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust.

Wayne’s life took a turn when he was 18, as he became paralysed from the neck down due to a car accident. Following his time at Pinderfields Hospital, Wayne became associated with S.U.R.F., a decision influenced by the founder of the charity who extended assistance during his hospital stay.

The charity orchestrates outings for the patients on the ward, which play a pivotal role in bolstering their self-assurance in navigating the world post-injury. Wayne devotes numerous hours each week both within the unit and over the phone, often extending his availability until late hours, attentively listening to patients’ anxieties and worries, and offering guidance during their most challenging moments.

Recognised as the “heart of the ward” by his colleagues on the Unit, Wayne’s profound empathy towards the trials and requirements of spinal injury patients distinguishes S.U.R.F. volunteers. Their ability to comprehend deeply stems from personal encounters.

Wayne’s personal odyssey, a story he shares openly, spanning from being a patient himself to emerging as a volunteer, underscores his resilience and unwavering commitment to supporting a closely connected community.

In Wayne’s words, the spinal unit at Pinderfields stands as his sanctuary, a place to which he attributes everything. He acknowledges S.U.R.F. as an entity that gives him more than he gives to it.

Despite his modesty, Wayne’s unwavering devotion towards enhancing the well-being and care of those affected by spinal cord injuries attests to his robust character and steadfast dedication to generating a positive impact.

Earning a nomination for the BBC Radio Leeds Making a Difference Award is a fitting acknowledgement of Wayne’s exceptional contributions. His narrative not only serves as a wellspring of inspiration for those confronting similar challenges but also for anyone striving to unearth purpose and significance through voluntary service. Wayne’s transition from adversity to advocacy serves as a poignant reminder that in the face of life’s most formidable trials, an individual’s determination can set in motion a cascade of affirmative transformation.

The victor in this category will be unveiled during the celebratory event scheduled for the 30th of September.