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A special event took place at the Churchdown Centre yesterday to mark a century of learning disability nursing and look at its progression in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.

Inspiration for the event came from the University of the West of England (UWE) which teamed up with the newly formed South West Learning Disabilities Nurse Forum to organise a week of celebrations.  The milestone was marked at the Churchdown Centre with a bake-off competition, a display of uniforms and historic nursing booklets and information.

There are around 50 learning disability nurses working across the Trust. This includes student nurses who study at UWE. Their course involves doing six placements over a three year period.

Student nurse Jess Davies is part of a cohort which qualifies in July.  She said: “It’s rewarding and fun and no two days are ever the same.

“Every person you come across is different and you feel a real sense of warmth when you work with someone and see their progression.”

Her colleague Jessica Wenner, also a student nurse, added: “It’s a really interesting job and very worthwhile.  I love it.”

As well as student nurses at the start of their career journeys, there were also experienced nurses at the event including Penny Shewell who has notched up 25 years in the profession working in both London and Gloucestershire.  Penny qualified in 1984.

She said: “I became a general nurse and then realised there was a learning disability nursing option.  I really love working with this client group so I’ve never looked back.”

Mark Adams is the Trust’s Lead Nurse for Learning Disabilities.  Mark put together a timeline of the last 100 years of learning disability nursing to show the innovations in service delivery and developments in the local area.

Mark, who works at Weaver’s Croft said: “I qualified in 1993 and I’m also trained as a mental health nurse, but learning disability is where my heart is.  Supporting people with learning disabilities is fantastic and I’ve also got a great colleague network.

“Originally I was training to be an accountant but 30 years later here I am.”

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