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Recognising the North East’s best new nursing talent

19th July 2016

Six nursing and midwifery students from Northumbria University have received prestigious awards for their efforts whilst training to join the profession.

Students undertaking nursing and midwifery degrees at Northumbria University spend half of their time at the University, and the other half of their time on placement in hospitals and health trusts across the region, where they are able to put their new-found skills into practice.

The Heath Award, which was established in 1892 by George Yeoman Heath, former President of the Royal College of Medicine, is presented each year to the best nurses graduating from Northumbria University’s nursing courses. The winners were chosen after being nominated by their tutors and hospital staff who they worked with whilst on placement.

The 2016 Heath Awards were given to midwife Vicky McNally from Gosforth; adult nurses Tracy Morris and Garry Uy from Houghton-le-Spring and Prudhoe respectively; child nurse Alexandra Marvel from Manchester; Rholynn Jacinto from Newcastle who specialises in learning disability nursing; and mental health nurse Jessica Robinson from Seaton Sluice.

Speaking about her time at university, Vicky McNally said: “Midwifery was something I wanted to do when I was at school, however, none of my family went to university, so it wasn’t the norm. I went down the route of getting a job but after my first son was born I started to think that midwifery was the career for me.

“It was really challenging to get through the course and you don’t realise what you’ve achieved until afterwards, and now I’ve graduated with first class honours. My sons, now aged seven and four, came to my graduation which was really nice and I hope will inspire them.”

Vicky is now a qualified midwife working at the Royal Victoria Infirmary’s maternity unit.

Fellow award winner Garry Uy decided to study nursing after moving to Prudhoe, Gateshead, from the Philippines with his wife, who is also a nurse and had a job in the UK. Although he already had a degree in Computer Science from his home country, he had to go back to college and study for a UK-recognised degree, which he managed while looking after his young son.

He said: “It’s been a hectic few years. I was working full-time and studying, and sometimes only would get one day off in a month, but I just wanted to do it for my family. I also had angina in the middle of my training and I needed to have a coronary stent. When I heard I’d got the award I was in tears, it has been the biggest icing on the cake.”

Garry secured a job as soon as he graduated and is now working in the Royal Victoria Infirmary’s operating theatres where he cares for patients undergoing and recovering from anaesthesia.

Dr Phil Adams, Chair of the Heath Trust, said: “The awards were bequeathed to celebrate excellence in the practice and theory of general nursing and midwifery. These students have been selected as winners not only for their excellent academic and clinical performance, but also for the behaviours and qualities they have displayed whilst training. Excellent nursing really does make all the difference to the care patients receive and these winners are very worthy recipients indeed.”

The students were presented with their awards at a special ceremony by Professor Dame Betty Kershaw, the former President of the Royal College of Nursing, in Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.

Northumbria University’s nursing and midwifery courses are ranked 15th in the UK according to The Guardian University Guide 2017 and were the first in the country to be accredited by the Royal College of Nursing.

For more information on nursing courses at Northumbria University, visit

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