A MONMOUTH woman who was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year’s Honours list for Services to the NHS was handed her medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Gwent, Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE, in a ceremony in Monmouth on Friday June 30 writes DES PUGH.

Nancy Thomas had initially worked as a nursery nurse then became a nursing assistant in Kent. On moving to Monmouth, she decided to train as a nurse.

Having passed her exams, she spent most of her time to begin with as a surgical nurse at Nevill Hall where she developed an interest in stoma care and so became a stoma specialist nurse until she retired in 2015.

She then joined the Community Health Council (CHC) and was later elected as chairwoman of the South East Wales region..

When the pandemic hit, the NHS was so short of help that she went back as a staff nurse working throughout the region of hospitals, but predominantly Monnow Vale Hospital in Monmouth.

“I went to do one shift at Monnow Vale and the patients were so sick that I said I would go on as a Bank Nurse as I was only around the corner.

“I had done one day shift and finished at 8pm and they asked if I could do a night shift, so I said I would have to have two hours sleep before I started again,” said Nancy.

“I started off working two or three days a week and ended up working seven days a week.

“It was a very sad time, for everybody I think, It escalated so quickly it was frightening really”.

Handing her the award, Robert Aitken said “today is your day, take all of the praise, all of the love, and all of the affection.

“It’s great to be able to use the honours system to recognise everything that you’ve done, you weren’t doing it because of a medal, you were doing it because you’re a lovely, warm person.

“It’s a great privilege on behalf of The King to be able to present you with this, thank you for everything you’ve done”.