British Empire Medal will be “bittersweet” moment for nurse Wendy

A SENIOR critical care nurse from Royton says recognition in the New Year Honours list for services to nursing will be a “bittersweet” experience.

Wendy Clapham, 49, who works at the Royal Oldham Hospital, has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) with special emphasis for her work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month (December) twin daughters, Hannah and Holly, celebrated their 21st birthdays.

But back in October, Wendy mourned the death of grandma, Joan Horsfield, who passed away aged 92.

“It wasn’t coronavirus related but it was unforeseen,” explained Wendy who has spent three decades in the nursing profession.

“She was proud of me to begin with but this would have made her year. So, receiving the BEM will be bittersweet.”

Wendy Clapham © Pic Paul Burrows Manchester

Part of the BEM citation says: “Wendy ensured a hundred non-ICU nurses received training and were embedded into the nursing team to drastically increase the number of patients cared for.

“She made sure the nursing staff cared for themselves by organising the provision of psychological support, as well as ‘wobble’ rooms…….”

“I have been a nurse for 30 years and this has been one of the toughest year I have ever had,” she confirmed.

“It has been very challenging and emotional for everyone. Our managing director said at the beginning it would be a marathon not a sprint.

“Actually, it’s not even a marathon, it is a triathlon. We realise now there are going to be ebbs and flows of different periods until vaccinations are done.

“It would be nice to think in 2021 we will have some semblance of normality. Hopefully, we can see visitors coming back in

“One of our biggest challenges have been the visiting restrictions we have had to have in place. It’s been difficult for staff as well as the relatives.

“For me, this is my local hospital. This is where your friends and family are going to be treated so you want it to be the best for them.”

Wendy, a former Saddleworth School pupil, discovered her BEM accolade earlier in December but has been sworn to secrecy with the exception of husband, Stephen.

“I am really sharing it because it is a reflection on Royal Oldham Hospital,” she said. “We all came together and supported each other.

“Some staff who came to us on ICU had never been in an intensive care unit and yet we were asking them to support our staff to look after the patients.”

To help with staff wellbeing Wendy, who has previously worked at Tameside, Bolton and North Manchester hospitals, created a ‘wobble room.’

“It does what it says on the tin,” she smiled. “Staff can go in for 5-10 minutes if they aren’t coping too well or who just need to take a break

“You can always tell if someone is having a moment. Now there are about five of these wobble rooms throughout the hospital.”

Wendy also moderates a Facebook ‘kindness’ group for more than 2,000 hospital staff members.

“Normally, things like this only happen to other people,” she admitted. “At first I thought I just had been nominated.

“It is nice to be recognised as an individual but it is not really an individual that wins this, it is a team.”

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