For the last seven years Father Conor Stainton-Polland, parish priest of St. Cecilia’s and St Matthew’s in Liverpool, has been a regular contributor to BBC Radio Merseyside's Sunday morning Daybreak programme. One of his 2019 broadcasts has been shortlisted for one of the prestigious Gillard Awards for BBC Local Radio.
As well as broadcasting, Father Conor is a sought-after speaker and trainer on mental health issues from his own unique perspective living with a diagnosis of bipolar.
Daybreak presenter Helen Jones suggested that he combine his broadcasting and advocacy work in a special act of worship. But Fr Conor says the time had to be just right. ‘It’s quite a leap from speaking to a conference hall about mental health to broadcasting into many more people’s homes about it,’ he said. The programme was broadcast in May to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week.
‘Helen's encouragement was just that, it gave me courage to speak and trust the wider audience,’ said Father Conor. ‘I hope it has helped some to know they are not alone. I’m really pleased with the shortlisting as it indicates how seriously the subject is being taken and that the show has indeed touched others.’
The Gillard Awards are named in honour of Frank Gillard, the pioneering war reporter who went on to be the BBC's first head of local radio. The award ceremony will take place in Sheffield in February 2020. Daybreak can be heard each Sunday morning from 6 till 9 on BBC Radio Merseyside and on BBC Sounds.