7 April 2020 09:00

Silver Swans and NHS Heroes: Linda Jones and Gillian Baker

Today is World Health Day, which this year shines a light on the now more than ever vital role played by nurses and midwives in providing health care around the world. We spoke to two Silver Swans who are currently working hard with the NHS workforce during the Covid-19 pandemic – Linda Jones and Gillian Baker.

Linda Jones

Linda Jones recently retired after devoting 43 years of her life to nursing, and started taking ballet classes as a new adventure. From her health work, Linda is aware of the importance and value of keeping fit and active whilst ageing. Not only has Linda seen physical benefits, but has found the social interaction important and uplifting.

“What a strange time we are living in. I had no hesitation in answering the call for retired nurses to re-register. I think once a nurse always a nurse.

I retired after 43 years in Nursing 3 years ago most of my career was in District Nursing. The returning nurses have been given a choice as to where they would like to work. As my speciality was Community that is where I have opted to work. It is an area of nursing that is often invisible as there is no visible ward for the public to observe but at this time there are hundreds of community nurses undertaking numerous tasks including caring for the dying, wound care, injections and numerous assessments to ensure patients get the best care.

During the Covid-19 crisis they will be doing a fantastic job under difficult circumstances and without the security of the hospital setting. It was a privilege to do the job and if called upon in the next few weeks I will proud to be working alongside these fantastic professionals. I have undertaken on-line mandatory training and updated on community skills to ensure that I feel confident to undertake the role once more.

Dancing since retiring has become such a joy especially doing the Silver Swans and has benefitted me in so many ways. I feel much fitter, my balance and co-ordination has improved and have made such lovely new friends I would recommend it to anyone thinking about trying or re connecting to ballet. Since the lockdown our ballet teacher, Sjaan, who I think is Hailsham’s answer to a dancing angel, has been doing on-line lessons in ballet for us. Having so much time I also try to practice ballet exercises each day along with my daily walk.

We were practicing for a show before the crisis and we were so excited to be wearing a tu-tu! This now has been cancelled but hopefully when it does take place the Silver Swans will be graceful and proud.”

Gillian Baker

Gillian Baker became a nurse in 1996 and following a dedicated career was awarded the title of Queen’s Nurse, from the Queen’s Nursing Institute, in recognition of her commitment to high standards of patient care, learning and leadership. Gillian looks forward to her ballet class every week.

“I trained to be a Registered Adult Nurse from 1993 to 1996 when my children were small, and worked in both medical and surgical wards before undergoing postgraduate training as a Specialist Practitioner District Nurse, following that I took further study to become a Practice Teacher and supervised and assessed Trainee District Nurses undergoing their qualification.  For the past 5 years, I have worked in the NHS as the Quality Lead at Health Education England, Thames Valley which is based in Oxford and whose statutory duty is to ensure all healthcare learners have a high-quality practice learning experience.

I am currently working hard with my colleagues to maximise the NHS workforce in a way that makes a difference to the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Two years ago, I was pleased to be awarded the title of Queen’s Nurse, from the Queen’s Nursing Institute. The Queen’s Nurse title was awarded in recognition of my commitment to high standards of patient care, learning and leadership.

Dancing will always be in my blood and once I have more time, I intend to do much more.  One of my ambitions is to join the Company of Elders at Sadler’s Wells!”

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