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Nola Ishmael - first black director of nursing in London and mentor

Born in Barbados, Nola Ishmael was tempted to England to nurse by a friend telling how much fun she was having as a trainee nurse in Lancashire

Nola Ishmael OBE is a former Department of Health nursing officer and was the first black and minority ethnic (BME) nurse director of nursing in London.

During her 10 years at the Department of Health she provided nursing input to policy development in a number of areas including public health and the inequalities agenda, BME health and the Mary Seacole Leadership Award, which is funded by the DH to support nurses in their leadership development.

Nola lectures extensively at local, national and international level. She also mentors, coaches and nurtures a number of individuals and groups as part of their career development. 

In 2000 she received an OBE for her work in nursing; the Windrush Award; and the European Black Business Woman Award for her work in healthcare. In 2003 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Central England in Birmingham (now University of Birmingham) and in 2004 she won the Wainwright Trust Award for her work on equal opportunities in the NHS.

Nola contributed to Many Rivers to Cross – The History of the Caribbean Contribution to the NHS. In 2006 she was included in a National Portrait Gallery exhibition depicting 16 outstanding men and women who have helped to shape healthcare in England.

Nola sits on the boards of a number of charitable organisations. she is vice chair of Greenwich Community College, patron to the Sickle Cell Society, Cancer Black Care and the Sickle and the Thalassaemia Association of Counsellors. She was a vice president of the Barbados Overseas Nurses Association and is Adviser and Founder Member of the Confederation of Black and Ethnic Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors.

Nola has two grown up children Jeff and Cherlisa. They complete her recipe for joy.

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