Two Lancashire residents awarded Churchill Fellowships to do research abroad

Lancashire paramedic Dan is jetting off to one of America's most dangerous prisons to research how people in stressfull and dangerous jobs manage to cope with the demands of their work. NATALIE WALKER finds out more

Friday, 16th March 2018, 3:49 pm
Dan Farnworth

Dan Farnworth, an emergency medical technician, from Kirkham, is among 150 people to be selected from more than 1,000 applicants to win a Churchill Fellowship.

Dan, who works for North West Ambulance Service in Blackpool, will be researching health and wellbeing in the American and Canadian Emergency and Essential Services, looking at how they support colleagues following a particularly traumatic incident. He will fly out to the USA and Canada this summer for five weeks, with his grant of £6,800.

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Samantha Blackburn

The 32-year-old says: “USA and Canada have done an extensive amount of work in the field already and they also have some world class support structures in place.

“We can learn a lot on how we can support colleagues better back at home - not just in the emergency and essential services but in all workplaces.

“I am looking to make links with numerous services and employers, including the New York Police Department employee assistance programme, to learn from them first hand how they support colleagues.

“I will also travel to Baton Rouge to visit Louisiana state Penitentiary – USA’s largest and most notorious prison or as they call is correctional facility. “I can’t help but feel that if staff in what is one of the most dangerous jobs in America feel happy, healthy and fit we can learn from them.”

Blackpool paramedics Dan Farnworth and Rich Morton meet with Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge on World Mental Health Day in 2016

Dan joined NWAS in 2004, following a stint answering incoming 999 calls.

He adds: “It is the best job in the world. However, demands are increasing, down time is none existent, breaks are few and far between and we need to look at new ways of supporting our colleagues to ensure they remain well whilst at work.”

Dan has also shared his experiences with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry through his role with the Mind’s Blue Light Programme, which provides mental health support for emergency services staff and volunteers.

Another Lancashire resident to receive a grant is Samantha Blackburn, of Preston, who will be flying out to Cambodia and Australia in December for four weeks.

Samantha Blackburn and Julia Swarbrick of No Label Arts

She will research the way arts organisations and social enterprises deliver professional development and creative employment opportunities for disabled people.

The £6,000 fellowship, supported by The Rank Foundation, complements her role as founder of community interest company, No Label Arts, based in Garstang, which develops opportunities for disabled people to have a career in the creative industries.

The 47-year-old says: “I have identified several arts organisations in Cambodia and Australia who have been very successful in providing creative opportunities for disabled people and I will be able to share their success stories with colleagues delivering similar programmes in the UK.

“The ultimate aim is to influence an increase in the number of disabled people working leading roles within the arts – such as theatre producers, musicians and festival directors.

Samantha Blackburn

“I am really looking forward to speaking to people from all walks of life who are involved in disability arts – the artists and producers, for example, and other creative social enterprises who employ disabled people.

“I can’t wait to speak to project participants, workshop leaders, Members of Parliament, academics and festival organisers. I’m also really looking forward to experiencing cultures that are very different from my own in the UK and bringing back my learning to share with colleagues.”

Samantha set up No Label Arts CIC in early 2016 after she worked for Preston City Council as cultural development manager and was part of the 2012 Preston Guild festival team.

She says: “We work with disabled people from 16 years of age upwards, offering quality visual and performing arts programmes in Lancashire – for both enjoyment, health benefits and to develop professional skills. We also offer paid performance opportunities and signposting to creative industry employment opportunities for disabled people who have taken part in our projects.

“I was inspired to start up the company when in 2013, I met one of our directors, David Johnson. He was studying music at Beaumont College in Lancaster and I became aware of the lack of opportunity of support for disabled people to progress in a creative arts career. I believe that visual and performing arts created by disabled artists is some of the most interesting and cutting-edge work out there - our company aims to contribute to developing more disabled artists to better reflect not just the arts and creative industries but our wider society.

“This year we are running a peer mentoring and music making project with young people in North Lancashire which is supported by the Youth Music Foundation, Left Coast/ Art B&B and Lancashire County Council’s Local Initiative Fund.”

Blackpool paramedics Dan Farnworth and Rich Morton meet with Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge on World Mental Health Day in 2016

Julia Weston, chief executive of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT), says: “Churchill Fellows search the world for ways to improve their communities and professions.

“This life-changing opportunity is open to everyone, with our next round of grants opening on April 27. It includes new categories on strengthening countryside communities, preventing suicide and crisis prevention, response and recovery for the emergency services.”

Churchill Fellows grants are available to anyone who has an idea to improve their community or profession. Find out more at

Samantha Blackburn and Julia Swarbrick of No Label Arts