Joan started her nurse training in 1956 at Whiteabbey Hospital and her career saw her work in nurse education, neuro-surgical units, and Occupational Health, with a bit of district nursing while her children were growing up too.
I first met Joan on the day of my interview for a job in what was then RCN Nurseline, as she, along with the late Sheelagh Brewer, was on my interview panel. At that time Joan was Chair of the Work Injured Nurses Group, but had previously been a steward and a safety rep during her career as a nursing practice educator. She chaired the UK Stewards Committee from 1991 -1993 and was the rep on the Employment Policy Committee.
Joan received an RCN Award of Merit in 1997 and later was awarded an MBE for services to nursing.
I will always remember Joan’s strength of character and determination but also her fairness and compassion. I learnt a lot from working closely with her and came to regard her as a good friend. She was a vocal advocate for work injured and disabled nurses and helped increase the groups’ profile and fundraising reach during her time chairing the group (although she would have hated that phrase and was adamant that she was not a piece of furniture!). Her commitment to nursing, nurses and latterly to WING, as committee member, Chair and Patron, was inspiring – she helped so many members over the years by either providing individual support or by her involvement in national campaigns. Joan was a keen supporter of the development of the Disabled Nurses Network that is now the Peer Support Group, run by RCN Member Support Services.
After a short battle with cancer Joan died peacefully surrounded by her family on 21st April 2018. The nursing world is a better place for having had her in it.