A day in the life of a senior health promotion officer at BCUK

A day in the life of a senior health promotion officer at BCUK

Reema HuzairReema Huzair is a Senior Health Promotion and Training Officer at Bowel Cancer UK, and the money raised through the Suzy Spirit Award contributes to the important work that she does. This is a day in her life.

7am: I wake up and start the day with a green or purple smoothie. It’s a great time of day to get a big dose of vitamins and fibre. I like to boost my immunity this way, particularly with potential viruses and packed tube journeys ahead of me.

9am: I leave my home in Walthamstow and head into work, on the way in I check my emails for any new volunteers signing up. These volunteers are vital to raising awareness of bowel cancer in local communities, and a large part of my role at the charity is to identify pockets of communities where there is a low intake of bowel cancer screening for the over 60s (and over 50s in Scotland).

Screening is the first step of testing for bowel cancer. If diagnosed at the earliest stage, bowel cancer can be treated successfully, with nine out of ten people surviving for more than five years. However, only one in ten people are diagnosed at this stage. I train volunteers to give talks about the importance of taking their screening test, which is delivered to them at heir home.

10.30am: I’m in a meeting with the NHS to see how we can best assist health workers. This involves discussing targets for screening, budgets and weighing-up effective interventions. The outcome of these meetings may be that educational materials or our health professional training will be part of a wider campaign, which also includes different forms of health promotion.

12.30am: I grab my packed lunch from the office fridge. It’s always a big salad with fish, beans or a meat replacement product. My intention is to move from a pescetarian to a vegetarian diet in the next few months. There is often a bit of cake lurking in the office which I will be sure to sample if it is an exercise day! I will have lunch as I look on the internet for flats to view as I am trying to buy a place in East London.

1pm: I travel into central London to meet with a local council where screening uptake is low. We discuss their targets for screening, budgets and weigh up effective health campaigns.

3pm: I’m back in the office, researching and preparing slides and handouts for upcoming talks as well as emailing volunteers, most of whom are bowel cancer survivors. Regular contact is important so they feel motivated to stay with us. I congratulate them on their talks and keep them up-to-date about research findings that will affect their awareness discussions. They often mention bits and pieces about cancer prevention that they may have come across in the news.


5pm: I finish work on time, grab my dance kit and head off to my dance class in Covent Garden for a 6pm start.  It’s usually some variation of hip hop as there’s nothing better than slamming your body around to a heavy bassline after a long day.

9pm: I get home and get on with preparing dinner. This is usually a vegetable stir fry, as I’ve had a protein shake after class. As it’s cooking, I go to YouTube to see the uploaded dance routines from class just earlier. It is sometimes cringe-worthy, but occasionally I pull out a good one! Dinner is almost always viewed with the latest episode of Eastenders on catch up.

10pm: It’s time to make my lunchbox for the next day, and pack tomorrow’s dance kit. I’ll check out the health sections of New Scientist and get ready for my 12pm bedtime.

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Meet the Suzy Spirit judging panel

Meet the Suzy Spirit judging panel


Sally O’Neill
I had the fortune of working with Suzy for more than 10 years. I’ve seen the positive impact she had on colleagues and clients in the UK and globally over many years. I am privileged to be part of this award, which recognises her integrity and determination, and the inspiration she was to so many.

Jeremy Thompson
I’m the MD of Cision EMEA and have had firsthand experience of bowel cancer in my family. I feel privileged to be associated with the Suzy Spirit Award because, in an industry which is full of awards, this one is different; it recognises individuals who are good at their job but are also inspirational outside of the workplace. I’m looking forward to working with the rest of the judging panel to find two stars of 2017.

Henry Playfoot
I’m the winner of the 2016 Suzy Spirit Award and I’m delighted to join the judging panel this year, it will be such a privilege to hear stories about people who make a difference in the lives of those around them. We all go on about PR and comms being about people but the Suzy Spirit Awards are the only ones that let us recognise our colleagues for who they are, and how they make us feel.

John Carter
A former BBC producer and journalist, I have been running communications for the church in part of the Yorkshire region for 16 years. Both as Suzy’s father and being involved in public relations, I hope the award can honour someone of integrity and leadership who encourages and inspires those around them.

Alex Ferguson
I’m Suzy’s husband and I’m looking for someone with her character traits: hard working, attention to detail, passion and kindness. She loved her job and loved her colleagues. The person you nominate should love both of these too!

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Remembering my wife: Suzy’s legacy

Remembering my wife: Suzy’s legacy

Suzy Ferguson

Suzy Ferguson inspired me in sickness and in health. I know this because even when she was in her final days, ravaged by cancer and lying in the hospice, one of her friends was talking to her about her problems. The same case was with another work colleague who needed Suzy’s advice about her current trials and travails.

Suzy was a confidante, a friend, and someone people loved to be around. One of her biggest strengths was her ability to be welcoming. She loved standing on the steps of the church, welcoming people to come into the service. In fact, that was where I first met her. She smiled at me – as she did to everyone.

Suzy was so welcoming – and inspired me to be more so – and people loved her for it. You can never say words like “to a fault”, when it comes to being welcoming, because you can only be positive about someone who is. Suzy’s ability to be welcoming came with a beautiful heart – and people knew it. To some, people might have seen her as someone that people took advantage of (sometimes, cynically, it was me!), but to her, it was being the person she loved to be: The listening ear, the wise word, the great consul.

One of the things I’ve been asked to write is about how I’ve coped since she’s been gone. I know I’m doing OK, because I’ve got a beautiful new girlfriend….and I’m still alive. The Suzy Ferguson Award means so much because Suzy was loved by everybody she knew – her family, her friends, and her colleagues.

This is a way of showing people what sort of person she was. There is nothing deeper or Oscar-like about that. And by this award, we want someone who reflects her values. Her values of kindness, hard work, and being nice to everyone she was around was rooted in her background as a Christian. People should nominate if they feel like that the person they are nominating (regardless of faith) fits into those categories.

There are two new categories in 2017 –  the Suzy Spirit Inspiration Award, and the Suzy Spirit Rising Star Award– visit the respective nomination form pages to find out more about each award, and how easy it is to nominate.

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An introspective: Suzy the PR pro

An introspective: Suzy the PR pro

Suzy Ferguson

I met Suzy on the steps of St Barnabas Church, Kensington when she had already started working at LEWIS.

Suzy loved the job, the people and the clients as much as they loved her. She was sad every time a person left the building. She revelled in their successes both ‘on and off the field’. She came home and told me all the good news, and she LOVED working with people.

But what always stuck with me was the time that she was having a rough time handling the workload and the stresses that come with her job,  so went to look for other opportunities. She handed in her resignation….and the LEWIS office handed it back, with the same terms as the new job, plus agreement to reduce the stress. Suzy was so taken aback by the generosity that she phoned me immediately – came home in tears!

She was very much the graduate but kept her beautiful smile and her “go-getter” attitude, which prevailed until she could no longer work.

LEWIS showed how invaluable she was to them….and she showed loyalty and hard work back. And it never changed. Until it had to for health reasons.

Suzy didn’t have a huge schedule outside of the workplace (frankly, because I was quite the project!), but she always made sure that she made her church Bible studies on a Friday and didn’t put work before her weekends with friends or family.

Her biggest charity was volunteering at the church – she gave so much time and effort to being a member at St Barnabas, and they loved her for it. She put faith first, and everything else came second.

In terms of mantras to live by, she had one, and that was: “Bring it on!”. She never gave up the good fight for anything or anyone. And that was a beautiful thing.

If you know someone who inspires you the same way that Suzy inspired me, her colleagues and her friends, then please nominate them for the 2017 award today.

There are two categories – the Suzy Spirit Inspiration Award, and the Suzy Spirit Rising Star Award– visit the nomination pages to find out more about each award.


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