Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Retired nurse takes on daring hospital abseil at age 78

  • Comment

A former nurse is set to celebrate 60 years since she first qualified by abseiling down the front of a hospital in central London to raise money for children.

Sue Smith, 78, will be abseiling 160 feet down the front of St Thomas’ Hospital on International Nurses’ Day to coincide with her milestone anniversary of her nurse qualification. 

“I had such a fulfilling career and believe I was meant to be a nurse”

Sue Smith

The day will also mark the birthday of Florence Nightingale who set up her first nursing school at St Thomas’ in 1859.

Ms Smith will be taking on the challenge to raise money for Evelina London Children’s Hospital where she volunteers.

Inspired by her aunt, who qualified as a nurse at Guy’s Hospital in 1940, Ms Smith began her nurse training in 1959.

She spent much of her career as a health visitor, seeing families across London, and in the 1990s she became Nursing Times community editor.

Ms Smith said: “I had such a fulfilling career and believe I was meant to be a nurse.

“Being able to support others at such a critical time in their lives is truly an honour,” she said.

The grandmother-of-seven currently volunteers as an honorary chaplain at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

She said: “I love it. I get to be a listening ear for patients and their families and try and help in any way that I can.

“There are many things outside of clinical care which may be playing on their mind, so I help as much as I possibly can to try and create some kind normalcy in what can be a very difficult situation,” she added.

Of her upcoming fundraising quest, Ms Smith said: “Each day when I come here I look up at St Thomas’ and I think ‘oh my goodness, what am I doing?’ I’m sure I’ll be terrified on the day but it’s so important for me to do it.”

“She is so empathetic and approachable and always has time for other people”

Susan Pruden

Ms Smith said she believes that age should be no barrier when it comes to challenging yourself and described the abseil as an opportunity to face her fears and do something she never thought she could.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, which includes Evelina London, has been a big part of Ms Smith’s life.

She said: “Throughout my life the trust has been there for my family so I feel compelled to give something back.”

Susan Pruden, senior play specialist at Evelina London, said: “Volunteers like Sue are a vital part of our team. Sue has so many qualities that make her so special and she is valued so much at the hospital.

“As a former nurse, she is so empathetic and approachable and always has time for other people,” she said.

“Sue always thinks of other people before she thinks of herself and for her to do this to raise money for Evelina London is such an amazing thing. We’re extremely lucky to have her as part of the team,” she added.

The annual St Thomas’ abseil will take place on Friday 10 May.

To support Ms Smith’s fundraising challenge visit here.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.