Derby County Community Trust are thrilled to announce that one of their Health Team Leaders, Luke Wilkinson, has been shortlisted for a national Who Cares Wins award, in the Mental Health Hero category.

Organised by The Sun, the awards were set up in 2017 to celebrate and thank the NHS and healthcare heroes, key workers and ordinary people who care for us.

Luke Wilkinson has been a member of staff at the Trust for 15 years, starting out as a coach who worked casual hours before gaining full time employment, delivering activity in schools. He moved across to work on Health projects in 2011 and has spent the last decade working to lessen health inequalities across various programmes.

The Who Cares Wins nomination was collated by participants of the Team Talk project, which he has overseen since it began as a pilot project back in 2018. The project began when a member of staff from the football club suggested using the power of Derby County to support males going through difficult times, and it has gone from strength to strength.

Since 2019, the project attracting funding from the club’s principal shirt sponsor, 32Red, allowing it to expand and work across a number of hubs in Derby. There are currently up to seven weekly sessions for males needing a space to talk.

On being shortlisted for the prestigious award, Luke said: “To be nominated is such a privilege. This nomination is for the project, and how far it has come, for all the males who have attended our sessions, and for the staff and partners who work so hard to make the sessions possible.”

Sharon Dale, Health Manager at the Community Trust, said: “Luke’s dedication to the Team Talk project has not gone unnoticed by his colleagues and more importantly, its participants. For this nomination to have been supported by the participants themselves is a huge testament to the work that he puts in, and this nomination is justly deserved.”

Harley Hollinshead, who worked with the Community Trust to submit the nomination, added: “What has really pulled us through is seeing Luke’s adaptability [over lockdown], empathy and a bright smile on his face. I have learnt a lot from Luke in terms of how to conduct yourself in a good manner when the chips are down.

“After speaking with others who attend Team Talk, we all echo the same thought. Luke is the most kind-hearted, dedicated man you will ever meet.”

The awards will be judged by a stellar line up, including Anthony Joshua, Kate Garraway and Matt Lucas, before the awards take place in September. They will be televised for the first time on Channel 4 with further details being circulated soon.