Life Change and Progression Award Winner
Nominated by: Cardiff University
Sponsored by: The Open University in Wales | Agored Cymru
Elinor’s second child, Will, passed away suddenly when he was 13 years old, from a rare and acute illness. Following Will’s death, Elinor was keen to restart her life and wanted to make a positive impact as a legacy to her son.
Having previously worked as a nursery nurse, and parent carer support officer, looking after others was something Elinor was already passionate about. However, following her experience in and out of hospital with Will, she wanted to help more seriously ill children like him, so she started a nursing degree.
Now, two and a half years on, Elinor has completed the first year of a BSc Nursing (Child) degree at Cardiff University.
Three months after Will passed, Elinor struggled with feelings of lack of purpose and was keen to pursue a role that made a real difference. She explained: “My son, William, was a beautiful, busy, little boy who also had learning difficulties and epilepsy. When he passed away I needed to be busy and do something different. I was so worried about my daughter and her grief, and I wanted to be a role model to her.
“I wanted to pursue something positive in Will’s name and applied for the Pathway to a degree in healthcare at Cardiff University. It allowed mature students like me to gain the qualifications and knowledge needed to start a nursing degree.”
Elinor’s nursing degree builds on her previous experience working in care but allows her to make a greater impact on the lives of children like Will, thanks to the qualifications she will gain. She said: “I know Will would be so proud, and being able to help patients and striving to give the care that families should receive in hospital is such a focus for me.”
To support herself and her daughter while she studied, Elinor began working in a chocolate shop. “Working in the shop was better for me while I was studying. As a nursery nurse, I wouldn’t finish until 6pm, but I could leave the shop at 5pm and get to uni for 6:30pm for my lectures.
“The Pathway gave me a really good background for my nursing degree, but I’ve also met so many people from all walks of life who are now good friends.”
Having completed placements at a children’s hospital and in health visiting and school nursing, Elinor has decided that she’d like to work on the general children’s wards for now.
“I would love to be the nurse that makes a positive difference to children and their families, just as so many nurses have made a difference to us over the years,” she said.
By sharing her story, Elinor hopes to inspire others to have the confidence to rebuild their lives after loss.
“I love the idea that my story could provide someone with the confidence to pursue a change or to aim for something positive following their own difficult situation.”
“I definitely took inspiration from reading the stories of others who had endeavoured to find a positive after losing a child. Their aim was to help others, and so is mine.”