Helen Silver, from the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital near Oswestry, has cared for thousands of spinal injury patients since 1979.
Upon her retirement, she was presented with the prestigious silver chief nursing officer (CNO) award in a virtual ceremony by Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England at NHS England and NHS Improvement.
Ruth said: “I was delighted to present Helen with a silver CNO award.
"She has had an amazing nursing career; she’s been an advocate for patients and colleagues and particular thanks for her support for the next generation of nurses."
The CNO Awards were launched back in 2019 by Ruth, and the silver award recognises nurses and midwives who go above and beyond the expectations of the role to support patients and their profession.
Helen said: “I have loved every minute caring for the patients on MCSI – I first worked on the unit when I was 17-years-old, completing the pre-registration orthopaedic certificate and I remember thinking to myself beforehand ‘What do I say to these patients?
"They have had such awful life-changing injuries, they’ve come to a place they’ve probably never even heard of and I’m just a teenager myself'.
“I completed my first shift and loved every minute of it.
"The patients relied on the staff for everything but I realised speaking to them like they were normal human beings, made them be just that.
"They were dads, mums, brothers, sisters and some just children in those days.
“I returned to MCSI after my general nursing training and then stayed for the rest of career. Thank you to all the members of staff I’ve worked alongside and all the patients I’ve cared for – they are so inspirational and they have kept me going throughout my whole career.”
Rebecca Warren, MCSI ward manager, said: “We have been so lucky on MCSI to have Helen working on the unit for near enough 40 years – she is an inspirational, loyal and committed nurse.
“One thing I’ve learnt from Helen over the years is how we must speak up if we think things are wrong and be advocates for our patients needs to ensure we deliver safe and effective care.
"She is one of the best nurses I’ve ever worked alongside.”
Stacey Keegan, chief nurse and patient safety officer at the hospital, said: “It was a real pleasure to watch Helen be presented with the CNO silver award – she has had a fantastic career and should be very proud of everything she has achieved over the past 40 years.
“I know I speak on behalf of the whole senior nursing team here at RJAH when I say I am extremely proud of Helen and she is a very worthy recipient of this award.”