'Incredibly special' is how Sandy Bradbury, medical directorate nurse manager at the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals trust, describes chief executive Stuart Marples.

She says: 'A lot of people talk about open-door management. Stuart's door really is always open. He makes everyone feel valued - if you do something out of the ordinary you'll get a note from him, maybe even a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers.

'He notices every detail. That's what makes him extraordinary.'

Finance director Colin Perry describes Mr Marples as 'trustworthy, honourable and absolutely irreplaceable'.

He points out that Mr Marples has already done his bit to boost Institute of Health Services Management membership: 'He encouraged me to join, so that's a start.'