Two nurses with Garstang and Longridge connections each receive prestigious Queen’s Nurse Award

Diane Hobro and Helen Kerrigan-Hawkes receiving their Queen's Nurse Awards at the Royal Garden Hotel, London.
Diane Hobro and Helen Kerrigan-Hawkes receiving their Queen's Nurse Awards at the Royal Garden Hotel, London.

Two nurses, both well known throughout the area, have been recognised for their commitment to patients and the nursing profession and have been presented with the prestigious Queen’s Nurse Award.

Helen Kerrigan-Hawkes, who has lived in Grimsargh all her life and is lead nurse at Garstang Medical Practice and Diane Hobro, who hails from Hurst Green, lives in Longridge and works in the Clitheroe area, received their awards in London on Monday.

They join a group of just over 1,000 nurses to hold the award and the ceremony, organised by the Queen’s Nursing Institute, was held at the Royal Garden Hotel and was made even more special in that both Helen and Diane are long standing friends.

Helen takes up their story.

After leaving Longridge’s St Cecilia’s RC High School she went to work at a rest home in the town “as a frightened 16-year-old” never dreaming this would be the start of a vocation in caring.

She qualified as a nurse in 1982 and went to work at the Royal Preston Hospital on orthopaedics and surgery where, she says, her friendship with Diane began on both a professional and personal level, and this, she says, is what made receiving the award “so special” saying: “Together we stood proud of our devotion to nursing and our friendship”.

In 1996 mother of two and grandmother of one Helen moved into community nursing in Longridge and Clitheroe and completed a degree in district nursing, a masters in health service management, a prescribing course and many other clinical courses.

Then in 2005 Helen moved to Garstang as a community matron to look after patients with long term conditions and says: ”I had the privilege to get to know these patients and their families and care for many until the end of their lives in their own homes.”

She went onto complete a fellowship in advanced practice for frail older people at King’s College University London and undertook a frailty project for Garstang patients over 75 and says: “I was given amazing support from everyone at the health centre, to prove to NHS England that a small market town in Lancashire needed help for their older people.”

Then in July when the Garstang surgeries merged into Garstang Medical Practice Helen was asked to take on the role of lead nurse to ensure visits to house bound acutely unwell older people are managed to a high standard, a job she is again enjoying, working with wider organisations to ensure patients have the care they need. She has also developed her frailty work at Longridge Hospital.

Helen added: “I am proud to become a Queen’s Nurse and was nominated by two Garstang patients and my application was supported by the management team. I am proud to have worked for the NHS since leaving school and I would tell any 16-year-old (frightened or not ) to develop a career in nursing. It is a privilege and an honour.”

Diane, who attended St Joseph’s Primary School, Hurst Green, St Augustine’s, Billington, and St Mary’s College, Blackburn says: “I knew I wanted to be a nurse, even as a little girl.”

After training at Preston School of Nursing, Sharoe Green Hospital and the Royal Preston Hospital Diane qualified in 1990 and began her career on the neurosurgical unit at Royal Preston where she spent 19 years, also working as a support nurse for people with multiple sclerosis, all of which she says she thoroughly enjoyed.

She then decided to try more general nursing and in 2006 applied for a community matron post in East Lancashire supporting GPs in caring for people who are housebound and living with long-term conditions, also taking a number of courses to enhance the care she could offer.

Diane has been in her current role since December 2014 and says: “I can honestly say I love my job. I work in the Ribblesdale locality as a community matron supporting two GP practices in Clitheroe, one in Whalley and Slaidburn.”

She says she has received the Queen’s award for setting up the community matron service for the over 75s within the Ribblesdale area and is also involved in several pilot schemes to enhance care for patients who wish to remain in their own home.

She added: “The Queen’s Nurse Award is awarded following a selection process to a nurse working in a primary care setting who has demonstrated a high level of commitment to patient care and nursing practice. They must have a minimum of five years’ experience working in a primary care setting and provide evidence as to how they have made a difference to the patient group they care for. Winning the award provides formal recognition of our commitment to improving care. We will have access to a supportive network of other Queen’s nurses and will provide us with other learning and leadership opportunities.”