A staff nurse from South Yorkshire has been given a high profile award supported by Prince Harry for her work with children who have been in hospital.
Julia Nekooi, who works at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, was last night named as this year’s “nurse of the year” by the national charity for sick children WellChild.
“I see the nurses and clinical staff, who become a lifeline for these families”
She has been a nurse at the trust for many years, choosing to “stay as a bedside nurse where she loves to practice her art rather than climb the career ladder”, according to the charity.
It said that Ms Nekooi currently worked in the community looking after children and young people with serious and life limiting conditions.
Colleague Jill Taylor who nominated Julia said: “She really embodies what it means for nursing to be a vocation and not just a job.
“For her, it really is a labour of love. Julia is the most humble and compassionate nurse I have ever met in my 30 years of nursing,” said Ms Taylor.
Meanwhile, the charity’s team award this year went to the paediatric respiratory/airway team at Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, which is run by Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.
“Julia is the most humble and compassionate nurse I have ever met”
In 2010, the hospital created a dedicated multi-professional team to care for children with complex respiratory/airway conditions, which now consists of consultants, paediatric nurse specialists, a physiotherapist, a speech and language therapist, a physiologist and a WellChild nurse.
Having the team has brought “significant benefits”, said the charity, meaning inpatient and outpatient care was co-ordinated in a timely manner. As a result, the number of outpatient reviews has reduced and parents are reassured to have a professional at the end of the phone to help them.
Ms Nekooi and nurses from the Belfast team and this year’s other WellChild award winners were revealed last night at the charity’s annual gala event at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London.
It honoured children and young people with exceptional health needs and the clinicians that go “the extra mile” to make a difference to their lives at the annual awards (see full list of winners below).
The awards ceremony was attended by many of WellChild’s celebrity supporters, including WellChild’s Patron Prince Harry.
“It is a tremendous challenge to select winners from the many, many truly amazing nominations”
Speaking last night, he said: “The winners may be different each year, but their stories are all equally moving and inspirational.
“I see the nurses and clinical staff, who become a lifeline for these families that just want to be at home rather than in hospital,” he said.
He described meeting WellChild nurse Helen Tooby, who was appointed in July at Leeds General Infirmary, as well as the families that she had been working with.
He added that he thought that “every family around the country” in a similar situation should have the opportunity of being supported by a WellChild “nurse on their journey from hospital to home”.
The award winners are chosen by a panel consisting of leading health professionals and others with an interest in children’s health, as well as children and young people with serious illnesses themselves.
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Linda Partridge, WellChild’s director of programmes, said: “It is a tremendous challenge to select winners from the many, many truly amazing nominations we receive from all over the country.
“All the panel members are moved by the bravery of the children, the stories of selfless care and support and the dedication of the doctors, nurses, teachers, brothers and sisters who make a great difference to the lives of seriously ill children and young people,” she said.
Sheffield children’s nurse wins high profile charity award
Source: Thousand Word Media
WellChild Award Winners 2017
2017 Nurse Award – Julia Nekooi
Julia Nekooi Julia has been a nurse at Sheffield Children’s Hospital for many years and has chosen to stay as a bedside nurse where she loves to practice her art rather than climb the career ladder. She works in the community looking after children and young people with serious and life limiting conditions. Colleague Jill Taylor who nominated Julia said: “She really embodies what it means for nursing to be a vocation and not just a job. For her it really is a labour of love. Julia is the most humble and compassionate nurse I have ever met in my 30 years of nursing.”
2017 Doctor Award – Dr Lucy Grove
Community Consultant Paediatrician Dr Lucy Grove, based at the Child Development Centre, Bury St Edmunds, received nominations from both colleagues and patients for her calm, dedicated and caring attitude to her profession. One parent who nominated her said: “Dr Grove goes way above and beyond any other professional I have ever come across. Dr Grove makes us all feel important, not just our daughter, but the whole family. She makes us feel our daughter is her only patient, and the level of care she gives us is exceptional.”
2017 Team Award – Paediatric Respiratory/Airway Team, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children
In 2010 the Belfast hospital created a dedicated multi-professional team to care for children with complex respiratory/airway conditions, which now consists of consultants, paediatric nurse specialists, a physiotherapist, a speech and language therapist, a physiologist and a WellChild Nurse. Having the team has brought significant benefits meaning inpatient and outpatient care is co-ordinated in a timely manner. The number of outpatient reviews has reduced and parents are reassured to have a professional at the end of the phone to help them.
2017 Professional Award – Shirley Moore
Shirley manages the kitchen on the children’s ward at the Royal Marsden Hospital where children are having intensive cancer treatments which have an impact on their appetite and taste buds. Shirley makes it her mission to track down weird and wonderful food items for children with particular cravings to get them interested in eating again. She gets the children involved cooking pizza and other foods, works tirelessly to provide high quality nutrition and is a favourite face with children on the ward.
2017 Helping Hands Volunteer Company Award
The company Hilti has been supporting WellChild for two years, their staff have already completed 12 Helping Hands projects and are lined up to do even more. Hilti has committed to contributing towards the cost of the projects and done additional fundraising for WellChild. The firm has also donated tools to Helping Hands allowing us to undertake multiple projects at the same time. Hilti volunteers are skilled, friendly and hugely enthusiastic. The Helping Hands team always look forward to a Hilti project as we know the team will be competent and keen.
2017 Inspirational Child 4-6 years: Female – Erin Cross
Chester seven year old Erin Cross has been fighting Leukaemia now for nearly five years but keeps the family going with her positivity and her amazing smile. Despite nearly losing her life many times she is an extremely bubbly character who just wants to play and have fun, having a dance-off with the nurses only hours after major surgery. She was chosen as an ambassador for Alder Hey children’s hospital and has been involved in raising funds for the oncology unit as well as raising awareness of blood donation.
2017 Inspirational Child 4-6 years: Male – Finley Green
Seven year old Finley Green from Linthwaite is described as ‘our little mystery’ by his family as he has a range of different serious conditions but no overall name for his problems. He is tube fed and has complex conditions including Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and a cyst on his brain. He never complains and is an inspiration to all who meet him. His mum says “He just copes amazingly well with adversity and everything that life has thrown at him.”
2017 Inspirational Child 7-10 years: Female – Katie Ward
Katie Ward, aged 10 from Colchester, was born with a condition causing short stature and was later paralysed below the rib-cage following spinal surgery. She has a number of serious health issues and is tube fed. Despite all this Katie is a happy little girl with a very positive outlook on life who loves every day to the full. She has been described by her teachers as the most cheerful, upbeat member of the class. She has a keen sense of humour and likes to make people laugh. She loves to swim and recently started her own YouTube channel.
2017 Inspirational Child 7-10 years: Male – Armaan Ahmed
Marni, as he is known, is a nine year old boy from Leeds who has a rare skin condition called Harlequin’s Ichthyosis which affects the whole body and requires intensive treatment for the rest of his life. The treatment is often very painful and he can develop skin infections which can be life threatening. Despite all he goes through he is a bright, friendly boy with a great sense of humour who gets involved in his care, is compassionate to others and loves to achieve and learn.
2017 Inspirational Young Person 11-14 years: Female – Alexandra Burrell
Sasha, 13, from Chorley wood, was in good health until 2016 when she developed the life threatening infection sepsis which led to her having both legs amputated below the knees. Despite this, her optimism and resilient spirit have enabled her to go from strength to strength, even taking up trampolining. Her paediatrician, who nominated her, describes her as a phenomenal human being: “She is a fighter, a survivor and a shining example of someone living her life fully despite what are undoubtedly significant physical impairments.”
2017 Inspirational Young Person 11-14 years: Male – Dawud Ghafar
Bradford teenager Dawud Ghafar, aged 14, has juvenile idiopathic arthritis and alopecia. Rifat, Dawud’s mum, has chronic asthma and is often in hospital or unwell at home. Sadly, in 2015, Dawud’s father tragically died on his way home from work. Dawud has become the man of the house, helping his mum and his brother. Community Play Specialist Lisa Smith who nominated Dawud, said: “In his short life, Dawud has had to deal with the pain from his illness and pain from a broken heart.”
2017 Inspirational Young Person 15-18 years: Female – Olivia Windle
Olivia Windle, 16, from Sheffield was diagnosed with Juvenile Batten Disease in January 2009, Olivia has since lost her sight, has declining mobility, memory loss and her speech is affected. Despite her health issues Olivia has the amazing ability to brighten up a room with her friendliness and warmth. She loves to talk to people and people often say how sociable she is. She always thinks of others even though she is going through so much herself, she always has a smile on her face and a song to sing as music plays a huge part in her life.
2017 Inspirational Young Person 15-18 years: Male – Harry Beattie
Invergordon teenager Harry Beattie, aged 16 was born prematurely at 27 weeks and has cerebral palsy. He has had many operations and procedures over the years and is permanently on a ventilator to help him breathe. He cannot walk and talk but understands every word. Harry was nominated by his mum Bev who said: “Harry is an amazing, happy and selfless boy who makes me feel humble every day as to what he goes through.”
Most Caring Young Person Award: Female – Rhiannon Horseman
Leeds 11 year old Rhiannon Horsman, has tirelessly helped care for her brother and mother despite having health issues herself due to a genetic condition EDS type 3 that all three share. Mum Sara has had long hospital admissions, Rhiannon’s brother Aidan has recurrent chest infections and immune system issues. Rhiannon uncomplainingly helps around the house with physiotherapy, nebulisers and tube feeds all while coping with her own health issues.
Most Caring Young Person Award: Male – Luis Singh-Eyley
Luis Singh-Eyley, aged 16, from Chesterfield, cares for his brother Theo who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Theo is registered blind is fed via machine and is oxygen dependent. Luis is first up in a morning to give Theo a cuddle and last in to him at night to tell him he loves him and read him a story. He has learned how to do all Theo’s equipment and spends hours with him doing physio, reading and playing games. Mum Denise said: “The love and care shown by Luis is extraordinary.”
Prince Harry’s speech at this year’s awards
Good evening everyone.
This is my tenth year as WellChild’s patron and of course I’m honoured to be here at another awards ceremony celebrating the powerful work of this organization; each year, I have the privilege of meeting the children you see before you and spending time with their families and carers.
The winners may be different each year, but their stories are all equally moving and inspirational.
Many of the children and young people WellChild support have been dealt the hardest card imaginable in life, and yet their courage inspires the most incredible strength in those around them.
I meet the parents, who are often powerless to change their children’s fate, but will do everything they can to make the most of each moment. I see the nurses and clinical staff, who become a lifeline for these families that just want to be at home rather than in hospital.
But what everybody has in common is the sense of grace, positivity and good humour that creates a community of support. Knowing that someone is on your side, understands what you are going through, and will carry you through it, is a lifeline that should not be underestimated.
These awards were created to shine a bright light on an amazingly brave group of children and young people, on their lives, and on the resolve they and their families have shown to overcome such challenges. Life for families caring for seriously ill children is exceptionally tough. And without WellChild it is even tougher.
Over the years, the WellChild Awards has played a huge part in highlighting what these families need, and the support that is desperately needed to meet the ever-increasing demand.
Prince Harry visits new children’s charity nurse in Leeds
Earlier this year I went to a WellChild project in Leeds. I met Elizabeth – a single, working mother of five young boys, all under the age of 10. Her youngest son Oliver is in need of constant care. I can only imagine how relentless life is for Elizabeth and yet she and her boys were a team! There for each other and there for Oliver. It was amazing to see. WellChild was also there for two days with a team of volunteers to make Elizabeth’s home more suitable for Oliver, so that he could enjoy life, safe at home, playing with his brothers. The difference this made was astonishing and highlighted how important it is for children like Oliver to be at home with their families.
Later that day I also met our new WellChild nurse Helen, at Leeds General Infirmary, as well as the families Helen had been working with. They were all incredibly grateful for the chance to be supported by a WellChild nurse on their journey from hospital to home – an opportunity which I think every family around the country should have.
People like Elizabeth and Helen are exactly what WellChild is all about. We must all take the time to better understand the unique challenges faced by parents across the country. We must engage with them and listen to what they need.
There are so many people in this room who play such a large part in making life better for vulnerable and isolated children, young people and families. I want to thank you all for the amazing work you do. You have my utmost admiration.
The spirit shown by the young people who have so deservedly won these WellChild Awards this evening humbles all of us. I hope that, like me, you have all been moved to keep supporting WellChild and help us reach more and more of the people that need it so badly.
I would like to end by saying well done again to all of our winners – it was a pleasure to meet you all; keep doing what you’re doing as you set an example for others to follow.