Skip to main content

This site is best viewed with a modern browser. You appear to be using an old version of Internet Explorer.

‘Shining star’ recognised with charity award


A Senior Health Play Specialist from Oxford Children’s Hospital, based at the John Radcliffe Hospital and part of Oxford University Hospitals, has been named as 'Health Play Specialist of the Year' by charity Starlight.

Emily Hodgkins was celebrated for her work improving the experience of children being cared for at the John Radcliffe's Emergency Department.

Due to the fast-paced nature of the Emergency Department, Emily has to react quickly to implement techniques that relax children and help manage their pain. She uses her 19 years of experience as a Health Play Specialist to normalise the hospital environment for a child when they’ve been rushed in and can be extremely frightened.

She was presented the award by Cathy Gilman, Chief Executive of Starlight, ahead of Play in Hospital Week, Monday 9 to Saturday 14 October 2023.

Starlight, a charity for children's play in hospitals and hospices, holds the annual Health Play Awards to recognise inspirational healthcare professionals who work to ensure every child experiences the power of play. Play can reduce fear, pain, and trauma, so they advocate for this during a child's treatment and recovery from illness.

Speaking about the impact of the award, Emily said: "A child’s first experience in hospital can be traumatic and shape their perception of hospitals for life. So, receiving this award is an opportunity to spread awareness about our role and how we can positively impact a child's experience."

Claire Osborne, a Paediatric Advanced Practitioner at OUH and who nominated Emily, said: "Emily makes our days better, and that’s for infants, children and young people, their families or carers, and also the staff.

"The comfort she brings to our young patients, the therapeutic play and procedural preparations she facilitates for us in the Emergency Department ensure our interventions and interactions can be most effective and efficient. She is our shining star – she is our starlight."

Cathy Gilman, Chief Executive of Starlight, said: "It's healthcare specialists like Emily who are our real life superheroes. Emily helps children overcome the trauma and anxiety they feel when admitted to hospital and gives them a voice in a high stress environment.

"The fact she manages all of this in a busy Emergency Department is particularly impressive. Emily is a true inspiration."