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Exeter trust replaces stolen nursing medal for 89-year-old

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The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust has presented a replica nursing medal to an 89-year-old retired nurse from Dorset, after her original was stolen.

Former sister Doris Sumption, 89, received her original gold medal when training at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in the 1940s and was devastated when it was lost in a burglary three years ago.

“Above all I hope the tireless work of nurses everywhere will be better recognised”

Doris Sumption

She contacted the hospital and the trust was able to produce a replica for her, which was donated personally by its chair James Brent.

Ms Sumption started her training in June 1944 at the age of 18 before undertaking her final state registered nurse exams in 1947. She received the medal for being top of her class in 1946 and described receiving it as one of the “proudest moments” of her career.

After being contacted, the trust searched through its archives and was able to locate a similar medal from 1924 on which to base a reproduction.

Ms Sumption and her family recently visited the hospital where she was presented her with the replica. She said: “I was so upset when I lost the medal. So it was lovely to hear that they have been able to replace it. It was so special to me.

“Nursing is not about seeking rewards, it is satisfying in itself to help people in their time of need. I feel so grateful for this replacement but above all hope the tireless work of nurses everywhere will be better recognised,” she added.

“Whilst it cannot replace what is lost, we hope this will serve as a reminder of… her achievements throughout her nursing career”

Em Wilkinson-Brice

During her visit, Ms Sumption was also able to reminisce about nursing in wartime Exeter and take a tour of some of the hospital’s medical wards, her own specialty.

In addition, she visited the hospital’s former site in Southernhay, now a restaurant, to see the old ward she was responsible for.

Her son Keith Sumption said: “We are all deeply touched by the effort taken to replace Mum’s medal.

“I think it was more than a medal to her, it was important in helping her confidence to develop as a nurse and when taking on greater and greater responsibilities,” he said.

Em Wilkinson-Brice, trust deputy chief executive and chief nurse, said: “We were truly sorry to hear that Doris’ original medal had been stolen, and so I am delighted that were are to be able to present her with this replica.

“Whilst it cannot replace what is lost, we hope that this will serve as a lovely reminder of Doris’ time at the RD&E and her achievements throughout her nursing career,” she said.

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