FOUR childhood friends working in the same Bradford hospital have shared their pride as they navigate life in the Covid-19 crisis together.

Alice Jackson, Molly Anker, Chelsie Reardon and Jessica Hamilton first met at St Joseph’s Catholic College 12 years ago and quickly became best friends.

It all began in the health and social care classroom belonging to Mrs Pryce, where she encouraged the girls to set their sights on a university education.

Years later the friendship group has celebrated Tuesday's International Nurses Day as fully qualified, paid members of staff at Bradford Royal Infirmary with what Molly describes as a “bond”.

Molly, Alice and Jess headed off to the University of Central Lancashire while Chelsie studied at the University of Huddersfield but their paths have crossed once again.

Two years since graduation, Alice is an adult nurse on the trauma and orthopaedics ward; Chelsie is an adult nurse in the A&E department; Jess is an adult nurse on the renal ward while Molly is a paediatric nurse working in A&E.

Molly said: “I feel really proud that we are all nurses. We’ve been there for each other as best friends through school, university and now our nursing jobs.

“It’s nice that we can all relate to each other and support each other through the tough times as well as sharing happy times together under one roof working for the same trust.

“I think it makes our bond stronger, 100 per cent.”

And while it has been emotionally tough at times, Chelsie is trying her best to keep up morale by sending kind messages and artwork to her pals.

‘Believe you can and you will’, she wrote on one paper message.

Chelsie said: “Simply can’t express my love for nursing enough, it’s the best job in the world.

“I love caring for people in their time of need and being able to help them, seeing the difference I can make is the most rewarding feeling and you can’t put a price on that.

“To see me and my three best friends since high school achieve what we have, and all working together under one roof at Bradford Royal, makes me feel so proud. We all worked so hard for this, from the endless hours of course work in school and working long placement hours (unpaid) to get where we are now, it’s a great feeling.”

Remembering her old GCSE and A Level tutor Mrs Pryce, she said: “We wouldn’t have made it to university without her”.

To mark International Nurses Day 2020, the University of Bradford has celebrated the role of nurses and its ongoing contribution to providing high quality teaching for healthcare professionals.

The University’s Faculty of Health Studies boasts that 98 per cent of those who graduate go on to find paid employment within six months.

Ruth Girdham, Head of School of Nursing & Healthcare, says the university has a reputation second to none in the local area, with strong links to Bradford Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust, Bradford District Care Trust, Airedale NHS Foundation Trust and Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust.

She said: “We take around 250 students a year, plus another 30 at a teaching site at Dewsbury District Hospital (part of the Mid-Yorkshire NHS Trust) and 98 per cent of our students end up working within six months of qualifying, the majority in local practice. These include adult nurses, mental health nurses and children’s nurses.

“We cater for a massive geographical area. We have a lot of feedback from partner trusts to say our graduates are well prepared and very much wanted in the clinical areas where they work.”

In the last few weeks, more than 400 second and third year students have taken up roles in frontline care as part of the university’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hannah Midgley, in the second year of a Child Nursing degree, is one of them, having begun work at the neonatal unit at BRI at the end of April. She said: “I chose to study at Bradford because it had a good reputation for its nursing degree and for the learning opportunities it offers. It has such a good reputation and the learning opportunities you can get are significant compared to other areas.

"I am now working two to three days a week. The support from lecturers has been brilliant. They are holding forums twice a week, so to know they are contactable even though we are not at university is very comforting.”

Underpinning the professionalism they bring to the NHS are a dedicated team of highly qualified teaching staff, many of whom have gone back into the NHS to train other healthcare professionals.

Dominic Egan works in the Faculty of Health Studies and is one of those given permission by the university to offer crucial training to NHS staff at the Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber in Harrogate. Together with colleagues Alexandra Roberts and Claire Sutton, he has helped train over 400 staff in the last three weeks, including senior doctors and nurses.

Vice Chancellor Shirley Congdon said: “The University of Bradford plays a significant role in educating the nursing and health care workforce to deliver high quality compassionate care and deliver applied health care research that improves the health outcomes for our region driving economic and social growth.”