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Essex School Nurse Tracey Torrie wins Queen’s Nursing Institute award for helping vulnerable families during lockdown

School Nurse Tracey Torrie will today (Wednesday, 30 September, 2020)  be awarded the prestigious Dora Roylance Memorial Prize during a special online ceremony for her work at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tracey, 51, who works for us at the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service, was nominated by tutors at Anglia Ruskin University where she is studying for a  BSc Specialist Community Public Health Nursing course.

Lecturers at every university in England, Wales and Northern Ireland that teach the course can nominate one student a year for their outstanding service.

Tracey has already been informed by the Queen’s Nursing Institute that she has won the award and she will receive her certificate virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mum-of-three Tracey, from Great Leighs, near Braintree, said: ““I am so proud to receive this and feel honoured that I was nominated by my university lecturers for the work I did with the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing service helping vulnerable families during lockdown.”

Mature student Tracey first qualified as a general nurse in 1992 and started working as a school nurse ten years ago.

When she qualified nearly 30 years ago, nurses were trained in a school of nursing attached to their hospital and undertook a three-year course which required student nurses to be included as part of the workforce during their practice placements.

But nursing has become much more academic and courses are now undertaken at degree level.

Tracey was keen to complete the specialist community public health nurse course as she believed this would help improve the care she could provide to the children, young people and families she worked with and was accepted to start in September 2019.

With the support of our Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service – run jointly by ourselves and Barnardo’s for the NHS and Essex County Council – Tracey started her studies.

But when lockdown happened in March she was redeployed back to her previous role as school nurse to help look after and support vulnerable children, young people and  families – one of the many ways the service worked with the NHS and others in Essex on the response to the pandemic. As a result, Tracey’s course was put on hold.

Tracey said: “I helped people struggling at home during lockdown with all sorts of issues such as emotional or financial difficulties.

“I would provide a listening ear and try and support and encourage them, attempt to enlist support from more specialist services such as social care where needed and signpost them to other voluntary and mandated agencies, which at times included local foodbanks.

“In some cases my work involved just reassuring parents that they were doing the best for their children as it was a stressful time for them.

“The research and learning that I undertook on my course at Anglia Ruskin University really helped me provide this support, encouragement and the reassurance they needed.

“I am honoured to be awarded this as it has given me a real boost and I am really thankful to Virgin Care and Barnardo’s for supporting me at every step of the way. My managers and Anglia Ruskin University, have done all they can to let me know that at the age of 51, I can still advance myself, take on new challenges and develop my career.”

Richard Comerford. Managing Director of the Essex Child and Family and Wellbeing Service, added: “It is incredible news that Tracey has been awarded the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI), Dora Roylance prize.

“This is absolutely brilliant. I’m so pleased for her and so proud. It also shows that we have such a strong relationship with Anglia Ruskin University, who we work closely with on developing nursing skills and educating the nurses of the future.”

Mandy Wagg, Tracey’s tutor at Anglia Ruskin University, said: “Tracey is a perfect example of lifelong learning, reflective practice and self-compassion, and a perfect case example of bettering her practice to serve the communities with whom she works.

“Over the years the school nursing service has very much depleted and some areas discontinuing services all together. This small group of specialist community public health nurses really do need shining a light on. Tracey is also a perfect example of the value of school nursing. ”

Tracey, who has now resumed her studies, will receive her certificate during a special online ceremony via Zoom on 30 September.

For more information on the Dora Roylance award go to


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