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Martlets’ Long Service Awards – it’s time to celebrate!

It’s time once again for our annual Long Service Awards, when we celebrate our volunteers and staff who’ve reached milestones in working for Martlets. Judy Leage, our Nurse Development and Quality Lead, has been with us for 25 years. She recalls some of her favourite memories of time spent at Martlets.

When I was informed that I had been working at Martlets for 25 years I couldn’t quite believe it. The time seems to have flown by! I began my work in palliative care at Coppercliff Hospice in 1996 with a one-night contract as a bank nurse. I had recently returned from working with a Christian charity on the Thai/Cambodian border with Cambodian refugees. (Coppercliff was one of the three local charities that grouped together to form Martlets in 1997).

My journey with Martlets

Together with my colleagues, I remember coming across to work at the brand new Martlets in April 1997. It all seemed so spacious, shiny and new. I continued working as a bank nurse on the inpatient unit until a permanent registered nurse position became available. I applied and was offered the post, continuing to work full time on IPU for several years.

I learnt so much over the years from my colleagues who provided wonderful care and compassion to patients and families. I gained a lot of experience and engaged with academic studies in palliative care at the University of Brighton. In 2005, I achieved a Diploma in Palliative Care and went on to study at Masters level.

I continued to progress in my role and in 2009 there was an opportunity to take up a year’s secondment at another health facility. I was interested in broadening my knowledge and experience. During this secondment, I realised the importance of on and offsite staff training and support. I also understood the need for robust risk management and governance involving clinical audit; working in these areas ultimately impacts staff morale, patient safety and quality of care.

On returning to Martlets, I continued to work in similar areas in a new role. Then, in 2010, I took up the post of Nurse Development and Quality Lead. Supporting staff in their development and working in governance (improving patient and families’ experiences) is something I see as vital.

How things have changed

I think one of the most amazing things about my time at Martlets is the positive development I have seen. It began as just an inpatient service with one part-time social worker, caring mostly for patients with a diagnosis of cancer. Then Martlets expanded to include a range of community and day services for outpatients. These included rehab and complementary services with one-to-one and group sessions.

We expanded our reach into the community in ways that were not even imagined in 1996. And we began to support patients with many other life-limiting health conditions as well as cancer. I have loved seeing the incredible ways the organisation has developed. It has also been wonderful to see individual staff developing and taking on more senior roles.

Putting the fun into fundraising

I also remember having amazing fun with fundraising activities, including the very first Martlets midnight swim at Roedean. I also recall the very first Martlets tandem skydive and abseiling down Peacehaven cliffs. The tandem skydiving started as a coffee break conversation with a fellow adventurer. We put forward the idea and suddenly there were 12 of us on the first skydive. Wonderful memories! I also signed up for abseiling down Brighton British Airways i360. That has had to be postponed because of COVID, but one day I hope to get up there!

I have been working from home now for nearly 12 months due to COVID restrictions. I quickly became familiar with new online technologies which have allowed me to continue my role. However, in no way does this replace the wonderful camaraderie of being with colleagues in the workplace. I look forward to being on site again as soon as possible.