Reunited after 26 years: Nurse who inspired health manager’s career choice after caring for his dying mum

Jenny Wilson and Andrew Wainwright
Jenny Wilson and Andrew Wainwright

A nurse who inspired a teenager to join the health service after she cared for his dying mum has met him for the first time in 26 years – after they both attended a long-service ceremony.

Practice development nurse Jenny Wilson bumped into Andrew Wainwright, operational manager for radiology as they gathered at Stoke Mandeville Hospital for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust’s annual awards.

Awards ceremony at Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust

Awards ceremony at Bucks Healthcare NHS Trust

Despite both working for the trust, the two hadn’t seen each other since 1989 when Andrew was supported by Jenny, then a district nurse, through the sad death of his mother.

Recognising Andrew, who had been just 18 years old when she last saw him, Jenny said: “I still remember driving to the school when I realised Andrew’s mum didn’t have much longer to live to pick up him and his brother, wondering if the school would even let me take them out of class. But I wanted the boys to have a chance to say goodbye.”

Andrew said: “Jenny went out of her way to make sure my brother and I got to say goodbye to mum. She took such great care of my mother and we were so grateful. Jenny doesn’t know this but she’s actually the reason I decided to go into healthcare, so seeing her here today is such a lovely surprise and a really personal reminder of why I do what I do.”

Andrew, who was celebrating 23 years with the NHS, and Jenny, an amazing 41 years, joined more than 200 colleagues who have jointly completed more than 5,700 years of service, for the ceremonies held at Stoke Mandeville and Wycombe hospitals.

The celebration was an opportunity for senior leaders, including chief executive Neil Dardis, to say thank you to members of staff for their hard work and commitment.

Many staff reflected on the some of the changes seen across the NHS over the years.

The longest serving member of staff being commemorated this year was Kathy Beavin, a rheumatology specialist nurse with more than 50 years of service under her belt. Kathy remembered the old uniforms and how medicine itself has changed, with surgeons now being more specialised.

Although she ended up loving her job Kathy doesn’t recall ever wanting to be a nurse, but her mother told her to go into nursing and ‘it was a time when you obeyed your mother’.

After receiving her award, Kathy said: “Everyone I’ve worked with has always worked so hard, with everyone going the extra mile. I really feel they are the unsung heroes.”

Also going the extra mile was health visitor Helena Legg who received her award for 44 years of service and who will be continuing her work on a part time basis.

Helena said: “The NHS has changed tremendously since I first joined in 1976 but I have always had a passion for the job. Coming back part time is like being reborn in my career.”