This month, Mike celebrated four decades with Alder Hey hospital whilst reaching the same membership milestone with the RCN. To say that Mike has packed plenty in to that time would be an understatement.
We first met around 1991. I was a student nurse at Macclesfield and serving as the RCN North West rep for the Students’ Committee. Mike was on the RCN Agenda Committee and he quickly made an impression on me. He had so much energy, so much desire to get involved and to expand his knowledge and the reach of his abilities. His activism inspired me and from that day our paths have crossed again and again through our roles with the RCN.
Day-to-day life for Mike nowadays is working as a Surgical Nurse within the ICU and HDU at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. Since joining the Trust back in 1980 he has also held the roles of Risk Manager and a Manual Handling Co-ordinator, demonstrating his commitment to safe working practise for his colleagues. This desire to safe-guard the welfare of others lead Mike to his myriad roles within the RCN, taking up the position of Steward not long after beginning at Alder Hey. In this role he played an instrumental part in the compilation of a report into the standard of nursing throughout the Merseyside region in May 1993. This review pulled no punches and cemented Mike’s status as a nurse prepared to ruffle feathers in order to maintain the highest standards of both patient care and workforce welfare.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Mike has gone on to hold a great many and varied positions within the RCN, most notably serving on the Council for three terms and coming within a whisker of being elected RCN President a few years ago. Both he and I have been on the North West Regional Board virtually since its inception in a number of different positions and we have both been on the Agenda Committee. Other notable national roles for Mike have included acting on the Governance Support Committee, the CYP Professional Issues Forum and as Chair of the RCN UK Safety Reps Committee. A busy man, indeed.
Mike is also a familiar face at Congress, the beating heart of our organisation, having been an active member of the Congress Agenda Committee and a regular and impassioned speaker at the annual meeting.
But despite his national profile within the RCN, Mike’s commitment to his region is constant and he is still actively involved in the running of his local RCN branch of Greater Liverpool and Knowsley, currently holding the post of Vice Treasurer. As is the case with so many Liverpuddlians, Mike cares deeply for the people he lives amongst and works besides, a true stalwart in his community.
Andrea Spyropoulos, the former RCN President, worked alongside Mike in their various roles in the organisation for over 30 years. She says:
“I remember my first encounter with Mike. He was extremely helpful and informative to newly accredited stewards, as I was then, 33 years ago. Little did I know I was to spend lots of time with Mike over the next 35 years as he worked his way through many roles within the RCN.
“Describing Mike is difficult as he is, as they say, a bit of a one-off. He can be challenging, with both friends and foe. I would describe his role as a bit like the grit in the oyster - you have to have the grit to get the pearl. Mike always provided the grit and on occasion produces the pearl.
“He is well known, both in the North West and nationally, and over the years has battled and won a great many cases for nurses with regard to their employment and professional issues. He is active within the branch and fulfils a critical role in mentoring new members.
“On a personal level I have always found him to be kind and I have never known him to refuse anyone assistance or insight to an issue when asked. As you would expect with activists, we are not always on the same page but we are always on the same side supporting nursing and nurses.”
Mike’s knowledge of industrial relations is exemplary – he is, without question, my go-to for any query I might have in this field and always has been. He is tenacious and professionally is the man you would want in your corner if you needed support. As Andrea says, even when he was a relatively junior nurse he has always been incredibly generous with his time and attention. I have never found him to be anything other than entirely genuine and hugely supportive, bestowing his time equally on anyone who needs his help, regardless of their own standing within their organisation. Rare qualities and ones which have benefitted so very many of our members who have been the recipients of his time and support.
Mike is also a keen sailor, photographer and poet and will often regale us with stories of his expeditions to Antarctica, encounters with penguins and 30-foot waves on the high seas.
On behalf of all your friends in the RCN, congratulations to you Mike on your 40th anniversary of service. Here’s to many more.