International Nurses Day volunteer is no small Mercy

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AN ophthalmic nurse from Milton Keynes NHS Foundation Trust has helped to celebrate International Nurses Day as a volunteer for Mercy Ships.

The international charity provides free medical care and humanitarian aid to some of the world’s poorest people, is celebrating International Nurses Day on the 12th May.

Mercy Ships runs the world’s largest charity hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, which is staffed by more than 400 volunteers at any one time. In the last 30 years nurses from all over the UK have volunteered with Mercy Ships to bring hope and healing to thousands of patients in third world countries.

One such nurse is Lorraine Montgomery, an ophthalmic nurse who works at Milton Keynes NHS Foundation Trust, who is currently volunteering with Mercy Ships in Togo. Togo is one of the world’s poorest countries where one in 10 children die before their fifth birthday.

Lorraine said: “I love being a nurse and my experiences on the Africa Mercy have enriched my professional and personal life more than I ever expected.

“This is my second time volunteering for the charity. I was also fortunate to celebrate International Nurses Day last year on the Africa Mercy. It was a wonderful occasion with all the medical staff dressing in funky scrubs. Everyone on the ship joined in. We celebrated with nurses from all over the world who had come together for one reason - to bring hope and healing to those less fortunate than themselves.

“I volunteer because I want to use my skills to help those less fortunate in the world. Mercy Ships provides excellent medical care to those where this kind of help is either unaffordable or, more commonly, where this specialised care is not available in the country where they live. It really is an inspirational charity and a humbling experience volunteering for them.”

Judy Polkinhorn, Executive Director of Mercy Ships UK, said: “Mercy Ships simply would not be able to carry on with the work that we do if not for the dedicated nurses, like Lorraine, who give up their time every year and volunteer. Mercy Ships requires around 750 nurses to volunteer each year and the dedication and commitment of those nurses who volunteer is admired and cherished. We would like to thank each one for all their hard work.”

International Nurses Day is an opportunity to celebrate nursing and the contribution nurses make, improving the lives of individuals and their families, the health and wellbeing of whole communities and the wider population across the world. It is held on the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale who is widely recognised as an important founder of modern nursing.

Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 70 countries providing services valued at more than £630million, helping in excess of two million people.

In the last 30 years more than 20,000 nurses from around the world have volunteered with Mercy Ships.

Each year Mercy Ships has more than 1,200 volunteers from over 40 nations. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, health care trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills to the effort.

For more information on Mercy Ships please visit www.mercyships.org.uk or call 01438 727800.