New awards to celebrate Chichester nursing students

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The first group of students to graduate from the University of Chichester’s nursing degrees this year will benefit from a generous award to remember former nurse Mary Gilchrist.

Local couple Rod and Joy Gilchrist have kindly donated £15,000 to the university’s nursing school which will be match-funded by the University Hospitals Sussex Charitable Trust. The generous bursary will fund the Student Nurse Academic Achievement award, open to final year students, and the Mary Gilchrist Prize for Academic Endeavour Against the Odds for second year students.

Mary Gilchrist was a pioneering nurse during the mid-20th century, serving as a theatre sister in London hospitals during the darkest days of the Second World War, narrowly missing death from German bombs on many occasions. Mary was born the first of ten children in 1914 to a rural ploughman in the Scottish Highlands and fulfilled her dream of becoming a nurse training at a Quaker Hospital in York and later Edinburgh before moving to London.

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She later trained as a midwife and psychiatric nurse, dedicating herself to helping children with disabilities and their parents among the poor of East London for which she won many awards. Mary was an important supporter of St Richards Hospital Chichester, where she died in 2013 aged 99.

Nurse Mary GilchristNurse Mary Gilchrist
Nurse Mary Gilchrist

In memory of his mother and as a mark of thanks to the nurses who looked after him after recent surgery, Rod and his wife Jane decided to make a donation to acknowledge the hard work of the trainee nurses of the future.

Rod said: "My mother loved nursing and would be enormously proud to know she is helping the nurses of tomorrow to follow their dream."

Dr Nita Muir, Head of the School of Nursing and Allied Health added: “We are delighted by this generous donation from Rod and Joy Gilchrist and the University Hospitals Sussex Charitable Trust, which will support current students, acknowledging their hard work and dedication. This year will see our first cohort of nursing students graduate and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate their success than the new Mary Gilchrist Award for Academic Endeavour Against the Odds and the Student Nurse Academic Achievement award.”

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Tricia Rigby, Head of Education and Practice Development for Nursing and Midwifery at University Hospitals Sussex couldn’t agree more stating that: “The Trust and our charity My University Hospitals Sussex are excited and very proud to be able to support these wonderful awards, which celebrate the exceptional contribution our Nursing students make to our profession which underpins the care we provide for all our patients”.

Both annual awards will offer a prize of £500 and the winner of the Student Nurse Academic Achievement award will also pick up a commemorative engraved chalice. The successful students for this year will be announced at this year’s graduation ceremony in September.