A RUNCORN Station worker has been named a ‘Rail Hero’ after she saved the life of a commuter who was experiencing a mental health crisis.

Laura Warwick, team leader at the station, was named as Railway Benefit Fund’s ‘Rail Hero’ at their Heart of Gold Awards 2023.

The awards celebrate those working in the rail industry who have made a real difference in their workplace or community.

Described as an ‘absolute inspiration’ by Railway Benefit Fund (RBF), Laura was recognised for her work to squash the stigma associated with mental health, which includes repurposing a waiting room at Runcorn station into a community space that offers local people help with their wellbeing.

But her dedication to mental health also led to her saving the life of a woman at Runcorn Station who was struggling with her mental health.

The Avanti West Coast employee approached and spoke to the individual before arranging specialist support to help her.

Laura reflected on her recent achievement, saying: “I am beyond thrilled to receive the Rail Hero Award.

“There were so many deserving nominees and I just want to acknowledge every one of them.

“They all keep the railway safe - going above and beyond for those who use it.”

Runcorn and Widnes World: Runcorn StationRuncorn Station (Image: Supplied)

It follows recognition at the Women in Rail Awards – where she was named ‘Unsung Hero’ for going above and beyond to support local charities with a focus on mental health – and reaching the shortlist in the Outstanding Personal Contribution category at the National Rail Awards.

Laura’s efforts to raise awareness of mental wellbeing and get people talking have seen her make connections with local organisations as well as groups that provide regular help and support for people.

She added: “I would like to thank the RBF for acknowledging the work I have been doing to support our communities, customers, and people at Avanti West Coast.

“This award is dedicated to them all, as they’ve all contributed to this incredible journey we’re on to create a space for support and community groups to use that help with loneliness, mental wellbeing, as well as many other everyday issues we may all face at some point in our lives.”

Runcorn station’s community space now hosts drop-in sessions by peer support group, It’s Good 2 Talk, weekly Age UK events, and welcomes a Ukulele group for rehearsals.

Andrea Thomas, Avanti West Coast station manager at Runcorn, said: “Laura has made such a positive difference at Runcorn by creating a safe environment for people to take care of themselves, look out for others and get the support they need.

“She’s dedicated her time volunteering as a Community Champion to raise awareness of mental health and illustrate it’s the little things that can make a difference.

“At Runcorn we’ve seen first-hand the positive impact her efforts are having on those who are struggling.

“Laura’s proactive, compassionate, kind-hearted, and community minded. We’re incredibly proud of all she has achieved and it’s so brilliant to see she’s been recognised as a hero in the rail industry.”

Meanwhile, Jo Kaye, Railway Benefit Fund CEO, added: “Laura truly epitomises our Heart of Gold Awards. Through her community work, she has made a real difference to staff and customers at Runcorn station, and we are delighted to present her with this award.”