RECEPTIONIST who came to the rescue of a stranded tourist in their hour of need has joined cancer surgeons in being recognised by Colchester hospitals trust.

The American patient, who was rushed to hospital after disembarking from a cruise ship at Harwich, had been successfully treated and discharged.

The tourist approached receptionist Sharon Bruce after the pharmacy and the hospital’s cash machine refused his credit card.

Mrs Bruce arranged for the pharmacy to issue the drugs and send the patient a bill before finding him and his wife a taxi to take them to Heathrow for a flight home.

She then handed them some water and helped them into the taxi.

Safely back in the States, the couple nominated Mrs Bruce for the Colchester hospitals trust’s “At Our Best” awards.

The patient’s wife said: “She was truly a godsend.

“She went out of her way to help a stranger. You should be proud of that kind of employee.

“My husband is a retired hospital administrator and I am a retired nursing administrator, so we are well aware of how valuable a person like her is to the hospital. She is a diamond.”

Mrs Bruce was one of the 120 staff and volunteers at the hospitals trust nominated for an At Our Best award, which celebrates examples of care and compassion at Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital.

At the awards lunch, which is held quarterly, she was given the best individual award.

The hospital trust is facing a crisis after it emerged patient data had been altered to hide the fact cancer targets were being missed.

But one terminally-ill patient was so impressed with her care she nominated the general surgery team, which won the team award. Her citation read: “I’ve never felt so cared for and looked after in all my life.

“I'm not just a number to them and when I was told I had secondary cancer and cannot be cured it was a terrible time and still is.

“But I know, and my husband and daughter know, I’ll get the best care, attention and tests if needed.

“The team are just a phone call away and I feel at peace among them and trust them 100 per cent.

“I feel part of a familywhen I’m there, so my daughter and husband feel the same."

Runners-up in the individual award included Essex County Hospital secretary Victoria Sotheron, who helped an X-ray patient who needed life-saving treatment after suddenly suffering an aortic aneurysm.

Patient safety data manager Julie Sage was also named a runner- up for finding a wheelchair for a woman trying to walk down Turner Road to the hospital with a broken foot.

Nayland Ward were team runners- up after being labelled a “slick unit” by a successfully treated patient.

Barbara Brooks, a volunteer at A&E for 12 years, won best volunteer for offering “cups of tea, a smile and real empathy and care to the anxious and distressed patients and relatives”.

Runner-up was children’s ward volunteer Graham Appleton, who is known as Santa over Christmas for organising visits by footballers, a referee and the Mercury Theatre panto cast to cheer up patients.