Southeastern worker Lee Woolcott-Ellis, from Ramsgate, says it is both “amazing and humbling” to have won an Outstanding Personal Contribution honour at the National Rail Awards.
The 58-year-old picked up the title for his pioneering work on mental health support where he has developed a mental health advocacy programme for the rail firm and founded the Railway Mental Health Charter (RMHC), in collaboration with RSSB (The Railway Safety and Standards Board) which was launched in May 2021.
Lee, who shares five children with his partner of 23-years Mandy, has been with the rail service for more than 20 years since starting as a guard at Ramsgate in 1990. He had a break from the job, working with police and the NHS, before returning in 2015.
Initially a high-speed onboard manager Lee then moved on to his mental health role. Putting together the advocacy programme was born from Lee’s own experience of childhood trauma, his eventual diagnosis of complex PTSD and his path to recovery.
In 2018 Lee developed a mental health advocacy programme to support colleagues who experienced a toll from witnessing suicides and attempted suicides and suffering violence and antisocial behaviour during their work or were suffering due to other issues.
He also developed the Railway Mental Health Charter in collaboration with The Railway Safety and Standards Board which is a framework to help rail companies promote, manage and support workforce mental well-being. To date, 101 companies have signed up for the Charter across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Lee was named the winner at the awards event on September 14.
He said: “Winning Outstanding Personal Contribution (Management) at the National Rail Awards was both amazing and very humbling. Being a part of the railway family has given me drive and purpose in both my life and my career.
“The morning after, when it all sank in, left me feeling grateful and full of positivity.”
Steve Foster, People Director, Southeastern Railway, said: “Here at Southeastern we’re thrilled that Lee won the award for ‘Outstanding Personal Contribution’ at this year’s National Rail Awards. All of us at Southeastern already know that Lee is a truly inspirational colleague but it’s fantastic to see his drive and commitment now being recognised on a national level.
“Lee led the way in creating a mental health-aware culture, not just at Southeastern, but across the industry, with the founding of the Railway Mental Health Charter (RMHC), in collaboration with RSSB (The Railway Safety and Standards Board), which launched in 2021.
“We thank Lee for everything he’s done – he’s a huge credit to the railway. His work and that of other colleagues also saw Southeastern confirmed as the winner of the ‘Great Place to Work’ award with three further frontline staff recognised for their role in saving the lives of customers.”