Hospital heroines win place in the limelight

5:00pm Saturday 30th November 2013

These staff working at Oxfordshire hospitals are making a massive difference to the lives of their patients and their efforts have been recognised at a special ceremony. Freddie Whittaker reports

DEDICATION and lifelong service were recognised as Oxfordshire’s Hospital Heroes were honoured at an awards ceremony at Blenheim Palace.

Two awards, sponsored by the Oxford Mail, were presented to nurse Rowena Pearce and the Ward 5F team from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

The presentations were made as part of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust annual staff recognition awards, where the hard work of staff from across the trust’s four hospitals, and other sites, was recognised.

Rowena Pearce, a nurse who has dedicated most of her 30 years’ service in the NHS to working with children with disabilities, Down’s Syndrome in particular, won the individual Hospital Hero award.

Mum-of-two Mrs Pearce, 53, was nominated by three mums who she helped through the uncertainty of having a child born with Down’s Syndrome.

She said: “It’s a humbling experience. Nurses don’t go around getting recognised. It’s not something we aspire to.

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“Our aspirations are more to do with making sure patients are OK.

“I cannot even begin to explain the rewards of doing my job. My families are all so inspiring – the way they cope with the things they have to go through very early on in their children’s lives.

“Coming to terms with having a baby with Down’s Syndrome, and then having to come to terms with the fact that your child has to have life-changing surgery, is quite a thing.”

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Mrs Pearce said attitudes to Down’s Syndrome and other disabilities have changed in recent years, and children born with complications were seen as having a much better chance of having a normal life. She added: “We do not consider Down’s Syndrome to be a terrible thing any more.

“Some adults you see dealing with it now did not have the same intervention as we can provide now.

“Most of them can live semi-independent lives and some end up learning to drive and hold down a couple of part-time jobs.

“Even 30 to 40 years ago, if a child born with Down’s Syndrome had a heart condition, the condition would not be treated and they would just be left to die.”

Maxine Hartnett was tearful when the team from the John Radcliffe’s ward 5F won the team award.

The 47-year-old from Blackbird Leys nominated the team because of their dedication to her when she suffered from liver disease.

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Mrs Hartnett was diagnosed with primary biliary cirrhosis, probably caused by a virus, in 1998.

She said she was at “death’s door” when staff on ward 5F managed to get her well enough to have her second liver transplant.

Mrs Hartnett said: “I had a little tear in my eye, and so did my husband.

“They treat their patients so well. They treated me like one of the family and they don’t get recognised for the work they do.”

At the awards ceremony, on behalf of the team, senior ward housekeeper Annie Cousins and ward sister Susie Swann said they were delighted by the award.

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Ms Cousins said: “We just don’t believe it. It is good for everyone on the ward but good for the patients too.”

Ms Swann added: “We had been saying we are not lucky people. We do not normally win things. We called my deputy on the ward and told her and she was so excited.”


Hospital Heroes Team award

Hospital Heroes Individual award


Consultant Geratologist Excellence

Improvement to Services






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