A Blackpool Victoria Hospital nurse was awarded Nurse of the Year at a star-studded event celebrating the nation’s health heroes, for bringing loved ones together during the final moments of their lives throughout the pandemic.
Jackie Brunton, from Preston, was named Best Nurse for her work with families at the height of the pandemic, as the lead nurse for end of life and bereavement care at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
She was presented with the award on stage at The Sun’s Who Cares Wins Awards alongside her daughter Jess, by TV presenter Kate Garraway.
Jackie said: “I was so shocked to win, and I’m still speechless now. I just feel incredibly humbled to hear the stories of all the other recipients and nominees and the way so many people have gone above and beyond to support patients during this difficult time.
Jackie Brunton, Blackpool Vic’s lead nurse for end of life and bereavement care, with her Nurse of the Year award. Pic: Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Trust
“Our teams across the trust worked together to support one another doing the very best they could and all should be proud.
“Kate Garraway presented my award which was astounding because I’ve followed her story with her husband for some time, we can all relate to her and seeing the video featuring Blackpool Victoria Hospital and Sue’s story was really lovely.”
Jackie was nominated by Sue Ayrton from Blackpool, who lost her dad Neville Ayrton to Covid at the age of 73.
Sue said without Jackie, her “guardian angel,” she would never have been able to see her dad before his life support machine was turned off, as relatives were not allowed to visit their dying loved ones.
Sue said: “I had a really close relationship with my dad, and he was an active member of the community, there was nothing wrong with him at all.
“He was hospitalised with Covid. I got a call to say that dad had deteriorated, and they’d had to put him on a life support machine and a ventilator. It was really heartbreaking. He was my best friend. He was my hero.
“Nobody was allowed to go in and say goodbye to their relatives. It was just horrific. My dad, my best friend, I couldn’t even give him a kiss goodbye.”
Jackie said it was “extremely distressing” speaking to Sue for the first time, as she had just been told her dad was going to die.
She decided she wanted to find a way to allow relatives to say goodbye to their loved ones while Covid restrictions were in place across the country.
Sue continued: “Jackie said, have you got an iPhone? I said yes, and she said well, you’re going to be able to see him. We did Facetime, we said goodbye to him. He knew I was there.
“Jackie was literally my guardian angel that night. She got £80,000 of funding from Captain Tom, and iPads on stands in the hospital so people could communicate with their loved ones.
“I am so proud of Jackie winning the award, she thoroughly deserves it for all her and her team’s hard work over the past 18 months.”
A spokesman for Blackpool Vic said the work done by Jackie and the end of life team during the pandemic laid the foundations for the Trust’s full-time Swan bereavement support service, and establishing the Swan Suite.
The Swan Suite was opened as a permanent service in April, after the Vic’s in-house charity Blue Skies received funding through a series of grants from NHS Charities Together.
The grants were a result of the nation’s fundraising during the pandemic, including money raised by the late Captain Sir Tom Moore who raised over £32million for the NHS.