A Telford College tutor who returned to the NHS front line at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic has won a ‘Valiant Volunteer’ award.
Elaine Colley was recognised in the Chamber Champion Awards, created by Shropshire Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the incredible support shown by people across the county during lockdown.
Elaine was one of six category winners in the awards, which were live streamed on Friday evening.
The health and social care tutor, returned to the NHS front line after 13 years at the start of the Covid-19 crisis, as well as volunteering for The Silver Line, helping those suffering from loneliness or isolation.
She has been working on the respiratory ward at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton.
Elaine said: “To see the patients arrive from critical care, scared, confused and very anxious, then recover before our eyes has truly been something of a miracle.
“I was able to wheel a female patient out of the ward and deliver her to her husband who had not seen her for seven weeks – this was so emotional for all of us who clapped her off the ward as she was welcomed by her very tearful husband.
“But there have also been sad times where relatives have said their goodbyes to their loved ones. Balancing those days with discharges of good outcomes and the sad ones where deaths have occurred, has at times been difficult.”
She added: “It has been a very challenging time, but I also feel very privileged to be part of an amazing team.”
Elaine, who will be returning to her Telford College post in September, said she would not have been able to do the NHS job without the excellent support of her family and work colleagues.
“They have been able to wrap me up with love and wipe my tears away, reminding me why I am doing this.
“It’s for my students who need to know the challenges nurses face as well as the job satisfaction of caring for poorly patients who are able to go home well.”
Telford College principal Graham Guest said it was ‘humbling and hugely gratifying’ to see colleagues like Elaine stepping forward to make ‘such brave and selfless contributions’.
During her previous nursing career, Elaine worked at hospitals in Wordsley and Wolverhampton in specialist areas such as renal medicine, and cardiothoracic surgery.
The college was also a finalist in the ‘service to the community’ category at the Chamber Champion Awards for organisations which have provided important Covid-19 support to those most in need.
Since lockdown began in March, it has loaned minibuses to The Wrekin Housing Group to help them deliver support services, donated items to the Princess Royal Hospital, and launched new distance learning courses in healthcare infection control. Staff have also taken part in a ‘sew for the NHS’ campaign, and the college has donated laptops for home-based students most in need.
Richard Sheehan, Shropshire Chamber’s chief executive, said: “These challenging times have certainly bought about so many amazing stories of how organisations and individuals have got involved and made a real difference, and who deserve the recognition of the entire business community.”