Angela Simiyu, a nurse at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, is one of the Rising Stars, recognised by the Royal College of Nursing to mark Black History Month.
The 30-year-old, who grew up in Kenya, was shocked and excited when she found out she’d been nominated by Kay O’Reilly, the Trust’s lead nurse for respiratory conditions.
She said: “What an honour to represent my Trust this Black History Month. Not only being nominated, but winning, has made me feel elated and highly valued.
“I love everything about nursing. It’s the only thing I know so I am hugely passionate about it.”
Angela was nominated for her hard work during the Covid-19 pandemic. On one nightshift, she took over running the team on her ward, teaching others how to use new machinery, while keeping patients safe. Being based in a respiratory ward meant Angela has been caring for Covid-19 patients throughout.
As the only nurse in her family, Angela’s caring nature meant she always knew it was what she wanted to do. Having qualified at the Nairobi Hospital, she worked on an endoscopy unit there for two years before her father encouraged her to further her career and experience by moving to the UK.
She’s worked at the Trust, her first experience of the NHS, for the last three years. Although she’s spoken English all her life, Angela still had some language issues when she began nursing in the UK, and fondly remembers how her patients helped her.
She said: “I got confused by ‘tea’ as dinner or an afternoon snack, and a cup of tea. Luckily one of my patients helped me by explaining to ask if they wanted a ‘cup of tea’!”
Working on a Covid ward during the pandemic had Angela not wanting to tell her parents and risk worrying them. However, after one exhausting shift, she broke down and told her mum.
She added: “First she asked if I wanted to come home, then she really reassured me and told me to trust in god and love my job.
“After that everything changed for me and I was able to switch back to normal and manager a lot better. I was so worried about telling my parents, but when I did they were a great source of support to me.”