One of Andover’s top nurses has spoken about her life caring for others as part of International Nurses’ Day 2021.

This year’s celebration of vital medical staff is even more poignant after the previous year nurses have spent caring for those during the Covid pandemic, whether that’s those with the disease or ensuring those being treated for other ailments didn’t get it.

One of those being celebrated is Sarah McGaughey, the Clinical Matron at the Countess of Brecknock Hospice. She discussed her journey into nursing to mark the occasion, revealing it wasn’t always her ambition.

“I was 17 years and I had a Saturday job in Woolworths,” she said. “The girl I was working with was just about to start her nurse training and move to London.

“I thought: ‘Wow, that sounds really exciting!’, and it sounds like an acceptable way for my family to let me move to London. That’s the truth!”

She quickly fell in love with her job, and 35 years later is still caring for others at work.

“Without sounding too gushy, I absolutely love my job,” Sarah said. “I love the way that people work together, I love the way the whole team puts patients first. The ability to actually make a difference to people’s lives no matter how small is an absolute privilege.”

She spoke about the challenges of Covid, especially moving into the newly extended hospice when work wasn’t yet complete.

“In March, they [the builders] left with a month before completion so the biggest challenge for us has been enabling this hospice to open on time and to deliver the care at a time when it’s never been more needed.

“I’m just thankful to the entire hospice family for their friends, their colleagues and every favour we’ve pulled in to get this hospice open.”

She continued: “This has been a difficult 12 months. I’m proud of the way that we’ve all managed and coped with Covid restrictions, the way we haven’t let patient care suffer at all and we still continue to deliver the best patient care.

“We’ve also had some fun and it’s been a journey that we’ve all done together and I’m just so proud of the team.”

For the next 12 months, Sarah says the hospice is planning to develop its end-of-life and palliative care provision further, as the pandemic hopefully begins to wind down.

Looking back on her career, it’s clear Sarah wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

“Every single day that I’ve been a nurse I laugh,” she said, “and no two days are ever the same.”