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19/10/2021

Sister's delight at Royal College of Nursing honour for Gabrielle

Sister's delight at Royal College of Nursing honour for Gabrielle

An illustration of Gabrielle Durkan by Ethan Deery. Gabrielle's sister, Mary, said it was based on a photograph taken on Gabrielle's last day of work as a nurse at Altnagelvin before her death.

The sister of a Derry nurse who passed away 10 years ago has spoken of her delighted of an award being launched in honour of her memory.

Mary Durkan said the Royal College of Nursing's (RCN) decision to launch the Gabrielle Award was “a fitting tribute to a life and legacy filled with passion, compassion and care” to her sister.

Gabrielle, known to family and friends as Gay, was a nurse at Altnagelvin Hospital. Ten years ago, the Durkan family lost Gabrielle to suicide. She was 28 years old.

The former Thornhill College pupil was a popular figure within the nursing profession and across Derry.

Of the award, Mary Durkan said: “I'm delighted that RCN Northern Ireland has launched a special one-off bursary scheme for student nurses in memory of our Gay.

“This weekend marks the ten year anniversary of Gay’s passing. The Gabrielle Award is a fitting tribute to a life and legacy filled with passion, compassion and care.

“It is a timely nod to the ongoing heroic work of our nurses in the most challenging of circumstances, an acknowledgement of pressures facing students – not least to student nurses – and recognition of the important role of our unions.

“Míle buíochas to Ethan Deery Illustrations for his excellent artwork being used in the bursary application paperwork.

“The illustration, based on a photograph taken by Neil Thornton on her last day of work in Altnagelvin, captures Gay’s spirit beautifully. Best wishes to 18 year old Ethan who has just started a degree in Animation at Ulster University, Belfast.

“Thanks too to Nus-Usi, Queen's University Students' Union and Ulster University Students' Union for their support for the Gabrielle Award.”

A RCN spokesperson added: “The RCN is delighted to launch the Gabrielle Award for pre-registration nursing students studying at Queen’s University, Ulster University or the Open University (NI). Sponsored by Mary and Isobel Durkan, the award is in memory of their sister Gabrielle who was a nurse.

“This award will give nursing students the opportunity to fund exploration of an aspect of nursing or healthcare they are passionate about and would like to explore further.

“It can be used to fund travel, attendance at a conference, developing a shadowing experience or another option that supports their topic of choice.

“The award is open to all fields of nursing. To apply for the Gabrielle Award please submit a proposal explaining your project, what you hope to gain from it and how you believe it will enhance your nursing knowledge and, importantly, patient care.

“The closing date for applications is 31 December 2021. Applications will be reviewed by a judging panel and the bursary (of up to £500) will be awarded in January 2022.

“A presentation event will be held at the RCN where award winners will have the opportunity to share their experiences with the bursary sponsors and an invited audience of nurse academics, clinical staff and leaders.”

For nursing students in the north of Ireland studying at Ulster University, Queen's University and the Open University, who require further information and an application form, email: claire.mcquillan@rcn.org.uk

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