RCN: Gary has helped individuals and families struggling with substance abuse, run awareness campaigns and held events to change the conversation around addiction
ARC Fitness founder and project development manager, Gary Rutherford, has been awarded the Royal College of Nursing Northern Ireland Nurse of the Year Award for 2022.
The Derry man was shortlisted earlier this year and was presented with the win by Health Minister, Robin Swann, at a special ceremony held at the Culloden Hotel, Holywood, last night.
ARC Fitness is a non-profit organisation that was first launched in 2019 by Gary, a registered mental health nurse and a qualified personal trainer.
It seeks to give individuals, who are recovering from addiction and substance mis-use, the opportunity to focus on improving their mental and physical wellbeing through physical activity, professional support, and re-connection with community.
Commenting on his win, Gary said: "I was humbled to receive the RCN Nurse of the Year award last night. Gaining recognition from my peers within the nursing profession is such a testament to the vital and much needed work that ARC Fitness does.
"I became a nurse ultimately because I want to help and support those in need, and to be in that room last night surrounded by such amazing nurses who share that passion was just an amazing experience.”
A spokesperson for the Royal College of Nursing said: "Gary’s nomination explains how he has developed a ‘no shame’ approach to addressing the stigma related to addiction and supporting individuals 'often living chaotic lives on the periphery of society.'
"Gary has helped individuals and families struggling with substance abuse, run awareness campaigns and held events to change the conversation around addiction.
"This has led to reductions in depression and anxiety as well as positive social contacts between participants.
"He ensures this client group has a voice to shape services and uses his leadership skills to change and positively influence care delivery to this group. Many congratulations to Gary."
Rita Devlin, director of the RCN in Northern Ireland, added: “Through his innovative and caring approach to care, Gary has changed the lives of many for the better.
“Working throughout the pandemic, he has created a new service and a different approach to treating those struggling with substance misuse and addiction.”
Minister, Robin Swann, added: “I congratulate Gary on this great achievement, winning Nurse of the Year 2022. Your commitment to caring and helping people recover from addiction is remarkable."
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