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Hospital archives turn up nurse link to royalty and running

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A recent trawl through the photo archives at has brought out forgotten stories, including one about a nurse and her link to a past Dutch king and another who used to be an African sprinting champion.

London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust has been looking at old stories and images from its past, ahead of the NHS 70th anniversary celebrations coming up this summer.

Among them was a story dating from 1998 about one of the trust’s intensive care nurses. Julie Nassau got a surprise when a TV crew researching the Dutch Royal Family discovered she was a direct descendent of William of Orange, the country’s original founder.

Hospital archives show a surprised Julie being told that, but for some political skulduggery, back in the day that she was the rightful ruler of modern day Holland.

William of Orange led the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule in the 16th Century leading the Eighty Years War. He was assassinated in 1584.

One of his descendants with the same name subsequently went on to become king of England as William III.

William the Silent

William I, Prince of Orange

Source: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

William I, Prince of Orange

At the time Ms Nassau – who no longer works at the trust – was asked if she interested in reclaiming her title after an absence of 400 years?

“I’d rather have my job than hers,” she told the hospital’s newsletter, referring to the then Queen Beatrice of Holland. “Besides I can’t ride a bicycle,” she said.

The trust has a strong connection with the British royal family dating back to 1970 when the Queen opened Northwick Park Hospital.

Prince Charles, Princess Diana Sophie of Wessex and The Duchess of Gloucester have also made an appearance at various openings.

Meanwhile, the trust’s current longest serving nurse used to be an international sprinter and was dubbed the “fastest women in Africa” after winning 100 gold in All Africa Games.

Theatre matron Rose Amankwaah, 65, who began working as a trainee nurse at the Royal Middlesex Hospital in 1975 – the same year as the Vietnam War ended and Margaret Thatcher came to power.

“I was exempt from weekend shifts so I could continue competing domestically,” said Ms Amankwaah who represented Ghana at the All Africa Games, Latin American Games and Commonwealth Games.

London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust

Rose Amankwaah

Rose Amankwaah

Her successes included 200m gold in Latin American Games, a silver and gold in the 100m and 4x100 relay in the All Africa Games and bronze in the 4x100m relay at the Commonwealth Games.

However, she was denied a place at the 1976 Montreal Olympics after African nations boycotted the event in protest at New Zealand’s association with the apartheid regime in South Africa.

“It still seems like yesterday when I think about it,” said Amankwaah, who put the secret to her success down to hard work and self-belief.

“There is always going to be someone who is better than you but that shouldn’t stop you trying your best,” she said. “You have to be your own champion and give 100%.”

“I love sport. It only seems like yesterday that I was out on the track and I’m running every step when I see athletes like Usain Bolt and Mo Farah on TV,” she added.

Ms Amankwaah has assisted in thousands of surgical procedures, including a dramatic intervention when a stab victim was treated in the car park. “It’s not the easiest job in the world but I love it,” she said.

London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust

Rose Amankwaah

How a young Rose Amankwaah appeared in the media

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