Celebrating Nursing: From ward to board

Comment piece from our System Executive Chief Nurse 

In the lead up to International Nurses’ Day this Sunday 12th May, I wanted to take this opportunity to share how my career as a nurse has been shaped by my experiences, how it has touched my family and is being passed on through the generations. I’ll also touch on some of the people who have inspired me along the way and why I am completely committed to supporting our nurses and midwives in a culture that demonstrates our values every day.

I spent some of my early teenage years living in Australia and returned to England when I was 17 with a view to becoming a police woman, primary school teacher or a nurse. I really wasn’t sure but having grown up in a very large family - my mum was one of ten and I have 60 cousins - I knew I wanted to work with and help people.

On return from Australia my mum became very ill and I spent a lot of time in hospitals visiting her both locally and in London.  During this time I was in awe of some really wonderful nurses and the impact they had on my mum’s health and her wellbeing.  It was during this time I made the final decision that I wanted to become a nurse. 

I started my RGN nurse training in 1984 at Harrogate School of Nursing and spent three years there. I returned home when I qualified and spent a year working in Neuro / Plastic Theatre at Middlesbrough General Hospital.   In 1988 I moved to London to start my Registered Sick Children's Nurse (RSCN) training. Working in a children’s hospital was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Great Ormond Street. Working with children and their families was and always will be a real honour. 

I then moved back home to the North East and have spent most of my career working in paediatrics in many different roles, working clinically and managerially in general paediatrics, educational roles, children’s intensive care and as matron of paediatric and neonatal services. I worked as assistant director of nursing and children’s champion in South Tees Hospitals for three years until 2013.  Following completion of an Aspiring Chief Nurse programme I then left the acute setting and spent five years working in NHS England and NHS Improvement in roles working across Cumbria and the North East. I worked with primary care, prison healthcare and commissioning organisations with nurses in a wider system function and supporting improvement within acute hospital settings.

One of my main motivations is the desire to make a difference to people in both my personal and professional life and this is what drives me every day. During my career I have worked with and have been inspired by many wonderful nurses and role models. Many of whom I am still in contact with;

  • As a student nurse - my first ward sister Lishke in Harrogate
  • My mentor at Great Ormond Street Sister Jilly on neuro surgery 
  • My previous Director of Nursing Tricia Hart…..to name but a few

I am very passionate about treating people the way we would wish to be treated ourselves or how we would wish our family or friends to be treated. Living our new values is hugely important to me and I am completely committed to supporting our nurses and midwives in a culture that demonstrates our values every day.

I am extremely proud to be a nurse and on a personal note, I am so proud to share that my daughter Amelia will start her degree in children’s nursing in September.

Finally and most importantly, I want to send thanks to the nurses and midwives working day in and day out to make a difference to the people living in Cumbria.  Since starting in post as system chief nurse I have visited many of our nursing teams and I want to thank you all for the huge commitment, professionalism and passion I see from our teams in north and south Cumbria. We are celebrating So my message to you is clear - please enjoy celebrating International Nurses’ Day. Be proud - you deserve it!

Hope those of you who have a free weekend ahead enjoy the break and if you are working this weekend, I would like to say thank you in advance.

See our roundup of International Nurses’ Day 2019.