THE year 2016 will mark 125 years of nursing education in Oxford, and Oxford Brookes will be celebrating throughout the year with local NHS Trusts.

I started my career as a nurse on a sunny, cold crisp day in October 1978 at the Radcliffe Infirmary.

I was excited and anxious about what the future would hold but 37 years later I could not have made a better choice of career and have loved my journey as a nurse, nurse educator and nurse leader.

I have worked in neurology and neurosurgery as a staff nurse and then ward sister and senior nurse and met and cared for wonderful patients, relatives and staff.

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The essence of nursing will always be the same; to care for people when they are at most need and to be there to offer support and education.

Technology has changed immeasurably and people have more access now to information about their conditions than ever before but nurses are still there to support, reassure and guide people to get the best health outcomes possible.

My current role is department head of nursing at Oxford Brookes University. I have always loved sharing knowledge with nurses and this role is a great way to influence the next generation of nurses and to ensure they share the same values that nurses have always held.

We are on the brink of the biggest change in nurse education and it’s an exciting time to be planning for the future. Oxford has a long tradition of educating nurses and training in Oxford can trace its beginnings back to 1782.

Then non-regulated training, the early beginnings of a formal nurse education, started in 1891 at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Woodstock Road. This hospital, when built in 1770, was on the outskirts of Oxford. In 1921 national training rules from the General Nursing Council were introduced.

Nurse training continued and blossomed at the Radcliffe Infirmary (RI), until 1979 when the John Radcliffe 2 site was opened and the ‘School of Nursing’ transferred to this new site.

The new site also allowed the expansion of continuing professional development for qualified nurses.

When the John Radcliffe 2 was opened, most of the services then moved, with the infirmary finally closing in 2007.

I was on night duty when it opened and nursed my patients for four nights at the RI and then four nights in a new ward at the JR2.

It was a great example of management of change.

Our celebrations in 2016 will involve students and nurses throughout Oxfordshire and Wiltshire.We have a full calendar of celebratory and social events, exhibitions and fundraising activities to mark the anniversary including our free, open lectures with nurses coming from around the world to speak.

You can find out about the activities via our 125 years of nursing education website – There will be specially designed mugs and a history of nursing booklet available to purchase in 2016.

On October 18, nursing will be the focus of the St Frideswide annual service at Christ Church Cathedral and this will coincide with an exhibition of nursing history at the town hall in Oxford.

We have been planning the year-long events with Oxford University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and they will soon be announcing how you can visit them to find out more about what nurses do there. We would also love to hear about people’s stories and memories of their time as a student at the School of Nursing so please do get in touch. We look forward to sharing our celebrations with the people of Oxford.

Send your nursing memories to reporter Callum Keown. Email your story and any pictures to