A nurse from our Team North Mid was invited to meet King Charles at a reception in Buckingham Palace, for her outstanding efforts in supporting international nurses.
Brendalee Wiggins, practice educator and international nurses lead, is amongst several nurses and midwives invited from across the UK, who took part in this once in a lifetime opportunity last Tuesday 14 November, which coincided with the 75th birthday of King Charles.
The reception is held to recognise and celebrate the contribution of international nurses and midwives in the UK’s health and social care sector.
Brendalee started her career as a healthcare support worker in nursing homes all over London in 2002 and completed her nursing training in 2012. During the covid pandemic, she led on the international nurses’ programme and provided immeasurable support to nurses to pass their exam. She also supported the nurses’ spouses with job leads, and signposted nurses to diaspora and well-being groups. Most recently, she created an international nurse’s ambassador group across North Central London, enabling collaboration of nurses from different hospitals. She likewise designed a development programme for international educated nurses across NCL.
We caught up with Brendalee on her remarkable achievements and what it was like to meet the King.
What was your reaction when you learned of the invite to have an audience with the King?
I wasn’t sure how to react, when told I’m going to Buckingham Palace to meet the King. I thought it was a dream because, I thought I’m only doing my job and here I am being awarded for it by the most important person in the UK. I have told my neighbours and everyone. I was very proud.
What does this honour mean to you, to the international nurses and to North Mid?
Sometimes I don’t realise how much I do because I really love what I do, and I totally enjoy my job. Sometimes I wish I could do more but have to remind myself that I’m always doing my best. This honour is not for just me, but for my colleagues and everyone at North Mid supporting the diversity and inclusion of international nurses in our hospital. Being honoured to meet the King means a lot and it shows that all the hard work and dedication is worth it.
What is the greatest reward of your job?
One of my greatest rewards is seeing those newly arrived nurses all quiet in withdrawn as they try to adapt into their new environment. Over the course of their adjustment, they come out of their shell and start to socialise and be themselves. I am most proud when I see the nurses I mentored working now in senior roles.