After a very unsuccessful attempt to pursue a career in banking straight from college, I entered the world of nursing in June 1986 as a student at the North Tees School of Nursing. I thoroughly enjoyed my training but knew after quite a brief visit to the neonatal unit there during my maternity allocation that it was what I wanted to do when I qualified and I was fortunate to be given that opportunity, so I went from being a 3rd year student nurse on a Friday afternoon to a newly qualified staff nurse on the Monday, being proud to receive the very last John Paul Devlin Award along the way before North Tees Nursing School transferred to a university based course – the first and only male nurse to have achieved that honour.
I then spent the next 13 years as a clinical neonatal nurse at increasingly senior levels, spending 2 years in Newport South Wales, before returning to Teesside in June 1994 but working at James Cook (then South Cleveland Hospital) neonatal unit. After completing my bachelor’s degree (BSc in Nursing – Neonatal Intensive Care) I went on to manage the Unit there between 2002-2005, undertaking an MSc in Leadership & Organisational Change in the latter two years of that post. A brief detour outside the neonatal world saw me return to clinical nursing once more at James Cook in 2008, where I stayed until March 2010 when I took up the post of Manager at the newly formed Northern Neonatal Network, where I have stayed ever since.
I thoroughly enjoy my job, despite the challenges, but I remain as passionate about wanting to change things for the better within neonatal care and have that opportunity from a different perspective across the north east and north Cumbria. Working closely with colleagues from every neonatal unit in the region to help bring that about, I have always tried my hardest to support them wherever and however I can, helping equip them do the job at unit level they also are very passionate about. I have also been involved in numerous extensive work streams and pieces of work at national level, always seeking to influence things in a positive way as somebody who has worked at every level within neonatal care. These are challenging times for the NHS but I continue to believe we have amongst the very best neonatal health care professionals in the country and beyond. We all want to give the very highest quality, family centred care, supported by any who share that aim from outside the NHS itself, which is where Leo’s comes in – and I have been thrilled to see the vision they have to support parents and families right through their neonatal journey in collaboration with the doctors, midwives, nurses, AHPs and managers and think together we can make an even bigger difference for the better.
In my spare time I have translated some of that love and passion for neonatal care into becoming a Trustee for the national neonatal charity BLISS in 2015 where I also try to bring my neonatal knowledge and experience in a positive way to their vital work and I am hopeful that there are opportunities for them to work collaboratively with local charities like Leo’s and continue to improve the care and support for parents and families. I also like to cycle and have undertaken many fundraising rides for charity, including the London 100 for BLISS in 2014 and 2015. My other passion is a lifelong love of classic cars and all things motor sport related (which included motorbikes, but I now stick to 4 wheels!), most recently evidenced by helping one of my friend fully restore a Lotus Europa. Other hobbies and pastimes include reading and learning Irish – which is not an easy language at all but like my career in neonates, I just love a challenge!