A schoolgirl inspired to enter nursing by a hospital ward sister almost 50 years ago is now caring for her mentor at Amberwood House.
RGN Barbara ‘Barbie’ Brierley, who first met Audrey Pitcher in 1968, recalled: “I was 12 years old and used to go to Wimborne Hospital most days after school to wait for my mum, who worked in the hospital kitchens.
“Audrey was a ward sister and had an amazing air about her. She was tall and straight and incredibly professional. But at the same time she was deeply kind and caring with her patients and she mesmerized me.
“One day Audrey saw me sitting, doing nothing and suggested I make myself useful.
“So I started by laying the silver service tables for the senior staff and by the age of 14, I had graduated on to doing blood pressures and basic observations on patients. I even watched my first operation at the age of 15.”
Barbie took home a small wage packet at the end of her first week – and along with it the ambition to become a nurse, just like Audrey.
Fast forward to 2015 with retired nurse Audrey moving to live in Amberwood, Barbie’s place of work.
Barbie, who has just won the inaugural Colten Champions award for Caring Excellence, said: “As soon as I saw Audrey again I just whooped. She recognised me too and called me by my maiden name.
“I now have the privilege of caring for this wonderful lady and we love to reminisce about when we first met and she inspired me all those years ago.”
Barbie and Audrey’s story was featured among our celebrations of International Nurses Day, which saw all 20 of our homes presenting our nurses with cakes and cards in appreciation of their work.