I’m an A&E charge nurse/ nurse practitioner.
I normally get on site at 8.30 in the morning and leave after 10 at night, I am also one of the founding members of the Calendar Lads community charity, born from a sad story seven years ago – we had a young guy who lost his life to testicular cancer. We decided to do a naked calendar to raise awareness and get men checking themselves it went down really well. Each year we choose a different charity, and we dedicate a full year to raising awareness and money. To date we’ve raised tens of thousands of pounds over the years. Our motto is simple. We’re inclusive not exclusive, we have people of all ages, all abilities, all cultures, all backgrounds join together in some way to help others. This year the team are raising money and awareness for Mind, Tyneside and Northumberland and the Northumbria Bright Charity.
I’ve learned during Covid that there’s never been a better time to be alive – because what I’ve witnessed is human kindness and connection. Cars, houses, money suddenly didn’t matter – all that mattered was each other. I’ve seen the real good in people, especially in the working-class areas with people coming together, connecting in an un-connected way. In 2020 we took back everything we’d perhaps neglected a little, we took back a sense of community.
I was on duty when it was the first clap for keyworkers. We’d had a sad day on the department, and I took the team outside. I could hear the people throughout the estate, we could hear them clapping and cheering. We were all so proud. And I came in and I did a ten second video about it that ended up being shared worldwide: it was on music videos, Piers Morgan shared it, David Beckham sent us messages. I was actually in tears, which is unusual for me, but it was such a defining moment.
I’ve had friends who’ve lost their lives to Covid, there’s been members of our team who’ve been very sick, it’s been a difficult time for all of us. There has also been that constant underlying anxiety, fear and uncertainty for many people. I’ve used my social media to do weekly videos to keep people grounded, to say yes this is going on but we’ll get through it together. And I’ve just found out that I’ve been nominated for a Daily Mail ‘Health Hero’ award. It’s very humbling but what it does for me is it gives me a platform for the charity.
Mental health is a passion of mine. I’ve lived with depression since I was 18 and I started talking about it on social media years ago in the hope that it lets people see I can work front line NHS , that I can do these endurance events and challenges for charity – depression is still a part of me, yet it does not define who I am. I get a lot of people, especially men contacting me for advice and guidance it lets me know I’m doing something right.
I use a lot of different things to look after my own mental health. I exercise and do endurance events, so I keep myself physically active, and I do a bit of mindfulness. But I find my medicine is helping others. I don’t say I have a job, I have a vocation – and it doesn’t begin and end at the threshold of a hospital. It’s a lifelong dedication to helping others. When I put my uniform on and look at myself in the mirror, I always feel very proud and grateful for the chance to help others. I’m proud of ‘Our’ community, the NHS is my life.