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Staff nurse awarded prestigious Daisy Award as he celebrates 80th birthday

A staff nurse -  believed to be the oldest employee at University Hospitals of North Midlands - has been presented a prestigious award for his dedication and commitment to patient care, two days before his 80th birthday!

Eric Dray, has worked in the NHS for more than 60 years and at the age of 79 is still working as a staff nurse on the Post Anaesthesia Care Unit (PACU) at Royal Stoke University Hospital. Today (Wednesday 28 February) he received an early birthday surprise when he was presented with a Daisy Award  - handed out to extraordinary nurses for their exemplary, compassionate care that they provide to patients and families every day.

The grandad of four, who has worked ay UHNM for 44 years, said: “During my time in the NHS I have worked in many places, both here in the UK and abroad. I started working in the NHS as a student nurse in 1965 in Liverpool and moved to Stoke-on-Trent in 1969 when I got married. I then started work here at the Royal Infirmary in 1971 on the neurological unit, moved to recovery in 1987 and I have worked in the department ever since.

“A career highlight for me was working during the 1996 World Cup, dealing with footballer injuries and broken bones. They used to ask us to work extra days in case any injuries took place during the football games. It was fantastic to meet the likes of Bobby Moore.”

He added: “My career at UHNM has been simply wonderful and every day is a highlight. I love looking after our patients, they are our VIP’s and there isn’t a day where I don’t enjoy my work. I am going to continue to work until someone says I can’t!”

Today colleagues from his department came together to help celebrate his birthday and honour him with the exclusive Daisy Award.

Gareth Hurley, Matron for Theatres and PACU, said: “Eric looked after and supported me after I qualified. The area we worked in in the Royal Infirmary was very complex and we didn’t have the level of technology that we have today so the level of mentorship was really important. I remember Eric’s generosity and input held me in such good stead, and I know he has helped so many other people in the same way.

“Working with someone like Eric who is so passionate about patients and their care really highlights how much of a role model he is to us all and it’s fantastic to work alongside him.”

Michelle Fell, Sister in recovery, said: “I remember meeting Eric on one of my first placements at the Royal Infirmary, he was always so kind and compassionate. He was encouraging to work alongside and I always felt so well looked after. Years later Eric is just as supportive and compassionate, he continues to share his knowledge with members of the team and student nurses while providing second-to-non patient care.  

Ann-Marie Riley, Chief Nurse at UHNM, said:  “The Daisy Award is a special award that is recognised across the world for registered nurses and it is an absolute honour to present Eric with this award today. Eric encompasses our Trust values, continuously delivering exceptional care to our patients with such dedication. We are extremely proud that Eric has worked with us for over 44 years and we are so thrilled to be able to celebrate this huge milestone birthday with him.”