Jackie had always wanted to be a nurse from a young age. In the 1950s to 1970s, her father was Group Secretary, responsible for a number of Leicester Hospitals and growing up in this environment nurtured Jackie’s ambition to be a nurse.
Jackie met Krystyna when they both started their nursing training at Northampton School of Nursing in 1970. Their rooms in the nurses’ home were next to each other and a lifelong friendship started from that moment.
“We looked extremely smart in our uniforms,” remembers Krystyna “with starched aprons and caps and a navy and red cape to wear whilst walking along the corridors. Outdoors, we wore a gabardine mac and a storm cap. The uniform policy was very strict!”
Jackie and Krystyna were allocated to the same wards where the ward Sisters were stern and very strict with patient care. Hospital beds were made with precision hospital corners and the student nurses had to know all the patients and their diagnoses when the night Sisters conducted ward rounds.
“Although life was strict and formal on the wards, we still found time for fun,” says Krystyna. “Jackie and I took part in the annual Northampton carnival, using bedpans to collect money! We also had a Christmas show which was always fun and everyone at the hospital could take part.”
Once Jackie and Krystyna qualified as nurses they worked on different wards, with Krystyna going on to train as a midwife. The pair kept in touch and met regularly.
In just a few years, Jackie was promoted to Senior Sister on Talbot Butler ward, the Oncology and Radiotherapy ward at Northampton General Hospital and also trained in oncology at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. In 1981, Jackie was nominated and awarded Nurse of the Year by the people of Northampton, something that made her immensely proud.
In 1986, she became Senior Clinical Nurse at the Cynthia Spencer Hospice in Northampton, an in-patient facility to provide cancer care and Jackie was instrumental in the planning and decision making of the building of brand new facilities to ensure the hospice continued to provide modern and acceptable standards of care.
Jackie loved the Cynthia Spencer Hospice and remained there until her retirement in 2006. She developed her role to become Nurse Manager of Palliative Care for Northamptonshire, taking on responsibility for managing care at Cransley Hospice, the Macmillan nurses and Hospice at Home care.
Earl Spencer, Patron of the Cynthia Spencer Hospice and brother of the late Diana, Princess of Wales sent a message on the occasion of Jackie’s retirement,
“Jackie has been the cornerstone of Cynthia Spencer for as long as I can remember, combining huge efficiency and endless charm. It is sobering to calculate how many patients have been touched by her wonderful warmth over the years. It’s also worth remembering the support she has given to countless families facing the loss of a loved one, and to members of staff working so hard to increase the dignity of people facing their final journey.”
In April 2019, following a short illness, Jackie passed away.
Her friend and fellow nurse Krystyna was keen that Jackie’s nursing career was remembered and celebrated so she nominated Jackie for a Cavell Star Award for going above and beyond for all of her patients throughout her long nursing career in Northampton.
Krystyna paid tribute to Jackie. “She was a credit to the nursing profession; caring, highly respected and dedicated, an outstanding nurse who always understood the needs of others. She was also fun to be around and had an adventurous spirit too, like doing a parachute jump to raise money for the cancer ward.
“Jackie was a true role model to her staff and showed compassion and care to the patients and families at the hospice. I feel privileged to have known her.”
Jackie’s husband Roger and her sister Joan received the Cavell Star Award in her memory. Roger reacted to the presentation,
“Jackie would have been thrilled to receive a Cavell Star Award but she would have insisted that her whole team be recognised, not just her. Jackie’s team meant everything to her and if you were a friend of Jackie’s then you stayed a friend! Colleagues have contacted me since Jackie passed away and they’ve all said what a privilege it was to be able to work for her. Nobody understood people quite like Jackie did.”