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Let's celebrate remarkable women achieving remarkable things

This week sees the launch of voting in the prestigious Liverpool Daily Post Merseyside Women of the Year event. This highlights the amazing, caring and talented women making their mark in many different fields in our city and surrounding areas.

We have been involved with this event for some years now. We feel that as one of only two specialist women's trusts in the country we should support anything that celebrates the achievements of remarkable women, particularly those enhancing the lives of others.

I am proud to say that our own staff have featured regularly in the event and several have walked away with awards. I am incredibly pleased to say that this year yet again two of our most dedicated people are among the finalists for a range of awards.

Jackie Rotheram, our Lead for Perinatal Mental Illness and Disabilities, is one of the most inspirational women I have met. She was a talented, enthusiastic young midwife when a dreadful road accident in May, 1982, resulted in a catastrophic brain injury which left Jackie in a coma for eight weeks and caused a massive stroke which paralysed her down one side. She was not expected to survive and her family was warned that if she did, she would be severely brain damaged. But a determined Jackie had other ideas. She spent two years in a wheelchair as she learned to walk again. Her "beacon" she says was the fact that her matron at Mill Road was keeping a job open for her.

Two years after the accident, Jackie returned to work. While unable to take up her previous job because of her disabilities, she began to specialise in supporting pregnant women with disabilities and became a national "voice" for their special needs. She has done more than anyone else in the country to transform the care that women with disabilities receive before, during and after pregnancy.

This year is the 30th anniversary of Jackie's terrible accident. But rather than remembering it with bitterness, she is determined to celebrate her survival and the fact that circumstances led to her following a different path which will continue to benefit pregnant women with disabilities for years to come.

Our other finalist, Neonatal Nurse Ann Parry, has received national acclaim for her invention of a butterfly shaped pillow which will ensure a brighter future for premature babies all over the UK and Europe.

Completely on her own initiative, Ann has developed this special pillow that will dramatically improve the care of premature and sick babies. It will not only make them more comfortable and help to keep their airways open. It will also help to prevent a condition known as head "flattening" which premature babies can develop through lying for too long in the same position. Prevention of this is vital to prevent the baby having future problems in feeding and in developing normal hand-eye co-ordination.

Ann is a member of our Neonatal Developmental Care Action Group which strives to minimise the effects of a premature baby's immobilisation and provide interventions to ensure the best outcomes for premature babies in our care.

Hers is the first ever product to be commercially developed for our Trust and is the result of years of research by Ann, driven by a determination to make a difference for these vulnerable babies who need all the help they can get not only to survive but to survive well.

I would like to wish them both good luck and we will be putting the details on our website later this week as to where you can place your votes if you are as impressed with their achievements as I am.

Closer to home, congratulations are also due to over 30 of our staff who received their certificates at our NVQ award ceremony on Monday which was Adult Learners' Day, recognising the importance of continued learning and of developing the abilities of our people to ensure they achieve their full potential. Everyone a winner!

by Kathryn Thomson

Chief Executive

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