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Scholarship created to honour nurse

Honouring top nurse: Donnalyn Smith and nurse Yvonne McHugh with a picture of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital intensive care nurse, Vickie Smith, who died in 2017. A scholarship has been set up in her memory, with Ms Smith and Milon Outerbridge earning the first awards (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Two would-be nurses became the first winners of scholarships set up to honour the memory of an intensive care nurse who died two years ago.

The Vickie Smith Nursing Scholarships were awarded to Donnalyn Smith and Milon Outerbridge.

Ms Smith, who is due to start a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of West England in Bristol, said: “This scholarship helps me a whole lot.

“My parents are very hardworking; I see how hard they have to work for me.

“I would do anything to help. I want to give back whatever I can, to ease the load.”

Ms Smith said she became interested in a career as a nurse when she volunteered to work at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital to notch up community service hours while she was at middle school.

She added: “A friend had volunteered at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital as a teen volunteer and she persuaded me to go.

“I volunteered in the continuing care unit and from the first day, I loved it.

“We sat with elderly patients, those who could not speak, those with disabilities … We read to them, we watched movies together, we walked with them. I was so happy, making other people happy.

“I liked the personal connection that nurses have with their patients and I wanted to make it a career.

“I am interested in going into geriatrics, paediatrics or surgical, but that could change once I get more experience.”

Vickie Smith, who died in 2017, was a veteran nurse and her mother, Julia, donated $20,000 for two nursing scholarships in her name.

Yvonne McHugh, a friend and colleague of Ms Smith as an emergency nurse, helped to select the recipients.

Ms McHugh said: “Vickie was from New York and we started at the Bermuda Hospitals Board in 1989 at the same time. We loved our patients.

“She took on the challenge of becoming the best ICU nurse she could be.

“She was a brilliant nurse, you could ask her anything and she would know it; she could run the show on her own.

“The doctors and anaesthetists all respected her and she contributed to saving countless lives.

Ms McHugh added: “She also loved having fun.

“She would organise dinners, get all the girls together, and, if there was a new nurse, she would invite them to her house, and have a BBQ or something.

“Vickie had big dogs in a tiny apartment.

“Her mother, Julia, wanted her memory to live on through a nurse scholarship.

“Vickie was very humble and didn’t like any fuss, but she would be very proud of this.”

Ms McHugh said that Ms Smith and Ms Outerbridge were stand out candidates.

She added: “Straight away I could feel their passion.”

Ms Outerbridge has already left for Britain in preparation for the start of her BSc course.