They received the Order of St John Award for Organ Donation, run in conjunction with NHS Blood and Transplant, which was given to their families and loved ones on their behalf.

Hundreds of families are receiving the award at regional ceremonies held across the UK between April and September, in recognition of 1,619 people who donated organs after their death, leading to thousands of patients’ lives being saved or transformed.

People recognised at the ceremony included:

  • Kerri Ann Watt from Ellesmere Port – The award was accepted on her behalf by her father Melvyn Swannick who said: “Kerri felt strongly about helping others, she had been a carer most of her working life and really loved her job second to being a mummy to her son Connah. “My wife Kim and I both found it really hard to sign the donation form agreeing to organ donation even though we carry cards and knew it was Kerri’s wishes. Losing her was such a heart-breaking and emotional time but we are so glad we agreed to organ donation.”
  • Edith Corlett from Neston – The award was accepted on her behalf by her husband Edward Corlett. Daughter Jill said: “We are all so proud of mum and her express wish to donate her organs if anything should ever happen to her. The fact that she decided herself and registered made it easier for us to consent, as we knew it was her wish. Mum’s donation helped to save two lives.
  • Other organ donors recognised include:
  • Barry Thornhill from Runcorn – The award was accepted on his behalf by his son husband Daniel Thornhill.
  • Deborah Spark from Chester – The award was accepted on her behalf by her father John Spark.
  • Gina Morgan from Winsford – The award was accepted on her behalf by her mother Carole Brandreth.
  • Ian Seel from Ellesmere Port – The award was accepted on his behalf by his partner Lorraine Barlow.
  • Julie Buxton from Runcorn – The award was accepted on her behalf by her husband Peter Buxton.
  • Philip Bailey from Chester – The award was accepted on his behalf by his wife Michelle Bailey.
  • Richard Marsh from Kelsall – The award was accepted on his behalf by his wife Rachel Marsh.

During 2018, thanks to the generosity of these donors and the support of their families, the number of deceased donors in the UK went up from 1,492 to 1,619 a rise of 8.5%.

Tony Shepherd, head of County Priory Group Affairs for the Priory of England and the Islands of the Order of St John, said: “We’re delighted to be able to work with NHS Blood and Transplant to run the Organ Donor Awards for a seventh year and to meet the inspirational families attending the ceremonies.

“Organ donation can clearly save lives and it is a genuine privilege to be able to say thank you to these families, whose loved ones have already donated their organs to save other people’s lives.

“People are still dying every day because some families are not talking about donation. We hope the example set by the organ donors whose lives we are honouring in Cheshire encourages many others to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. It only takes two minutes to join the millions of other people who want to save lives.”

From spring 2020, the law around organ and tissue donation in England is changing.

All adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.

Organ donation is a most precious gift and adults covered by the change will still have a choice whether they want to be an organ donor and their families will still be involved before organ donation goes ahead.

Anthony Clarkson, director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “The pride families feel at these ceremonies is clear to see.

“Transplant patients tell us that organ donors and their families are heroes.

“This award is a chance for us all to recognise their bravery and generosity, and their amazing contribution to society.

“More and more people are supporting organ donation but there is still an urgent shortage of donors. We hope these awards will inspire other people in Cheshire to tell their families they want to save lives. “Telling your family that you want to be an organ donor makes things easier at a difficult time.

“Families tell us donation is a source of comfort and great pride that helps families in their grieving process and we don’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to donate.

“Please join the NHS Organ Donor Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk and tell your family you want to save lives through organ donation.”