The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) held its annual Awards Ceremonies on 8th December at Friends House in London.

Two ceremonies were held, and included the presentation of some of the most prestigious awards in nursing, including:

  • The Gold Badge of the Institute
  • The Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Award for Outstanding Service
  • Fellowship of the Institute
  • The Queen’s Nurse title
  • Graduates of the QNI Aspiring Leaders programme
  • Leaders of QNI community nursing innovation programmes
  • The International Community Nurse of the Year Award
  • Memorial prizes for post-registration nursing students

Presentations at the afternoon ceremony were made by Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, QNI Vice President and Patron of the Mary Seacole Trust and Professor John Unsworth OBE, Chair of Council, The QNI.

Presentations at the evening ceremony were made by Professor Deborah Sturdy CBE, Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care, Department of Health and Social Care, and Professor John Unsworth OBE.

The Council and Staff of the QNI were also delighted to welcome Rupert Tyler, Chairman of the National Garden Scheme, to speak at the afternoon ceremony, and George Plumptre, its Chief Executive, at the evening ceremony. The National Garden Scheme recently announced the incredible donation of £425,000 to the QNI. The donation enables the QNI to operate the Queen’s Nurse programme – 560 new Queen’s Nurses receive the title today, taking the total number to 2500 nurses leading, delivering and managing care in the community, and educating others in universities and in practice.

Event programme

View the programme here.

Photos of the event

Afternoon ceremony photos 

Evening ceremony photos

With thanks to our event photographers, Kate Stanworth and Anna Gordon.

The Gold Badge of the Institute

The Gold Badge of the Institute is the QNI’s highest award. It is rewarded in recognition of conspicuous and distinguished service rendered to the Institute. The Badge is regarded as a gift for life: the QNI requests the return of the badge to the Institute on the death of the recipient, in order that it may be awarded to a future recipient. 

The Gold Badge of the Institute was awarded to Dr Crystal Oldman CBE, The QNI’s Chief Executive Officer.


Photo collage from the QNI Awards Ceremony 2023 Photo montage of award winners

A very warm welcome to all those nurses who are receiving a title or an award tonight – welcome to the QNI, to our family of role models for community nursing, learning and leadership.

Dr Crystal Oldman CBE, QNI Chief Executive

The Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Award for Outstanding Service

This award is given to community nurses who provide exceptional care to their patients and demonstrate a continuing passion and enthusiasm for nursing. It is not a reward for length of service, but an acknowledgment that a nurse makes a very exceptional individual contribution to patient care and the nursing profession. The citations below are summarised from their nominations.

  • Liz Gilbert, Diabetes Nurse Consultant and Clinical Lead, Surrey
    Liz champions community and specialist nursing. Liz has played an integral role in developing local diabetes community services into the well-respected services they are today. Her ethos has always been that people should receive diabetes care in their own environment, avoiding secondary care where possible; Liz helped challenge the notion of hospital-led care. When Liz started there were no Consultant Nurses and Liz was very involved in changing this. Liz was integral in the development of accredited education courses for community professionals including GPs, Nurses, Pharmacists and Podiatrists. Liz has demonstrated her leadership by building a highly respected community service. She works closely with all our community colleagues, and is known to be approachable, generous with her time and motivational. Our service has an incredible reputation and Liz is the face and heart of it, and its success.
  • Julie Mullings, Lead Nurse Tissue Viability Nurse, Manchester
    Julie has 25 years’ experience working in community nursing, with 21 years dedicated to the field of Tissue Viability. She has been an inspiring force with an ambition to raise standards, improve the patient journey and encourage autonomy for Health Care Professionals. Julie’s infectious passion, enthusiasm and commitment is inspirational and, if possible even more evident today than when her journey began. Demonstrating exemplary clinical leadership, she puts the patient at the heart of advancing best nursing care. Her empowering leadership inspires her colleagues to transform care pathways, through an inclusive, supportive and transparent environment. Effective clinical leadership has been integral to the success of numerous projects, striving for excellence and reducing patient harm.
  • David Pugh, Assistant Locality Manager, Sirona Care and Health, South Gloucestershire
    David Pugh’s award was particularly poignant, as David very sadly died before the ceremony took place. His award was accepted on his behalf by his husband, Dave Sampson. Knowing that he was very ill, Dr Crystal Oldman CBE, the QNI’s Chief Executive, had presented David with his certificate personally in March 2023. Read more here.
  • Karen Robinson, Director of Nursing, Bolton
    Karen is a super nurse, who combines aspects of nursing, clinical and managerial practice into her daily role. At her core, Karen cares deeply about people, recognising everyone’s individual talents and helping them overcome their own challenges. This applies to patients and colleagues. Karen plays an integral role with challenging patients, using her practice nursing background and skill to become an ally, and then using this rapport to deploy her clinical acumen. By understanding our local populations and then adapting her practice, she has become a role model for other staff, ensuring we all see our patients as humans deserving of respect and dignity. She is highly valued by our patients and has been recognised across Greater Manchester for her work. Like other such talented people, Karen tries to downplay her efforts, seeing them as “just part of the job” or “what anyone would do”, but she is recognised as an outstanding nurse.

Fellowship of the Institute

QNI Fellows are known leaders within their sphere of expertise, with a high profile in the health and care sector, and the respect and recognition of their peers. Fellowship in 2023 is conferred upon:

  • Dr Michelle Acorn
  • Professor Gina Awoko Higginbottom MBE
  • Paul Labourne QN
  • Helen Mehra QN
  • Professor Ruth Northway OBE
  • Sam Sherrington QN
  • Barbara Stilwell
  • Dr Emma Wadey.

 Queen’s Nurses

564 Queen’s Nurses were awarded the title in 2023, after a rigorous application process. We are delighted to welcome so many Queen’s Nurses in person to the awards ceremony, and also to welcome those who joined online. Queen’s Nurses certificates were presented by Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, QNI Vice President and Patron of the Mary Seacole Trust in the afternoon ceremony, and by Professor Deborah Sturdy, Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care, DHSC.

The Queen’s Nurse programme is wholly supported by the National Garden Scheme and there are now almost 2500 Queen’s Nurses working in every community nursing specialism and in every part of England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Channel Island and the Isle of Man.

The Aspiring Nurse Leaders Programme

The Aspiring Nurse Leaders Programme is designed to support the professional development of nurses working in the community to become future leaders in healthcare, to the benefit of the people, families and communities they serve. The programme is open to experienced nurses working in a community or primary care setting, including the charity or independent sector.

This year’s graduates of the Aspiring Nurse Leaders Programme are (afternoon ceremony): Nicky Bloye-Cook, Emma Brodie, Laura Clifford, Kay Crowther, Maxine Dickinson, Deborah Flatman, Charlotte Fry, Donna Jones, Saiqa Kauser, Jude Mckaig, Natalie Mew, Laura Moss, Laura Reynolds , Sekayi Tangayi, Maria Whelan; (evening ceremony): Tracey Hartley-Smith, Alexandra James, Sarah Roderick, Rachel Thorpe, Tracy Allan, Laura Carnall, Lisa Gavin, Allison Horne, Caroline Lane, Clare Palmer, Ivy Rico, Ane Ringen.

Nurse-led Innovation Projects

The NGS Elsie Wagg (Innovation) Scholarship

The QNI and the National Garden Scheme (NGS) created this annual scholarship in 2021 as a joint initiative to promote physical, mental and emotional health through gardens and garden visiting. This year’s awardees are:

  • Jasmin Lanzaderas and Tracy Norbury: Connecting with the Senses
  • Susan Duggan: Shildon Growing Healthy Allotment
  • Helen Hurst: Sensory and Wellbeing Garden
  • Fiona Waddington and Joanna Brady: The Just Be Garden
  • Maritess Murdoch and Louise Keane: Project GARDEN
  • Stephanie Llewellyn and Janie Millerchip: Willow Incredible Garden
  • Honorary Elsie Wagg Scholarship Awardees:
  • Sarah Baker: Rowcroft’s Space for Nature
  • Grahame Hardy and Sarah Agyemang: Sustainability and Nutritional Programme for Patients in a Community Hospital setting
  • Rebecca Shearer and Charlotte Marshall: No Inequalities

Personalised Care projects

Funded by NHS England, the QNI supported five projects to improve personalised care. Some of these projects also receive Elsie Wagg (Innovation) Scholarships as their projects had a garden focus.


  • Sarah Baker: Rowcroft’s Space for Nature
  • Grahame Hardy and Sarah Agyemang: Sustainability and Nutritional Programme for Patients in a Community Hospital Setting
  • Deborah O’Nyons: Creating a Pain Map in Cornwall
  • Rebecca Shearer, Charlotte Marshall: No Inequalities
  • Lynn Wrathall: Midway Diabetes Support – Mind the Gap

Innovation Projects in Partnership

The QNI works in partnership with community healthcare providers to foster nurse-led projects in the community that improve health and care for individuals, families, carers and the wider community.

This year’s awardees are:

  • Andrea Spratling and Alice Maggs: Health for Young Carers, Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust
  • Suzanne Mumford and Natalia Stan: The Hear Well project, Care UK
  • Geraldine Rook and Stefanie Barnish: The Bladder and Bowel Incontinence project, York & Scarborough Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Hayley Ingleson: Leeds Primary Care Student Leadership Placement, Leeds Community Healthcare Trust
  • Deborah Myers: Retention of non-registered staff through role development, Leeds Community Healthcare Trust.

International Community Nurse of the Year Award

This the third year that the QNI has offered an Award to recognise Internationally Educated Nurses working in community settings in England. All Internationally Educated Nurses who have worked in any health or social care setting in the community in England for 1 to 5 years are eligible for nomination by their employers. The Award winner was chosen by a panel comprised of Internationally Educated Nurses working at a senior level in England.

Presented to: Noor Ul Haq

Noor Ul Haq joined Leeds Community Healthcare Trust in 2021 after working in a care home when he first arrived in the UK. Since joining the trust, Noor has worked as a trainer with nurses, clinical support workers, and nursing associates in the integrated Neighbourhood teams. In early 2023, Noor left that position to join the Clinical Education team and take on the role of Pastoral Support Officer. He works closely with the International Nursing Steering group to coordinate the cohorts of new Internationally Educated Nurses, working with them to ensure they feel settled and welcome in their new teams. Noor has first-hand experience of what it is like to arrive in a different country, settle his family, adjust to a new healthcare system but also how to utilise all the skills he has developed in his previous working life. Noor contextualises healthcare in the community with the different experiences our nurses bring with them from other countries.

Academic Prizes

The Philip Goodeve-Docker Memorial Prize was awarded to Saffina Pennant.

The Dora Roylance Memorial Prize was presented to Ria Garcia.

The Ellen Mary Memorial Prize was presented to Fiona Salisbury.

Surprise award: Adult Social Care Award

Professor Deborah Sturdy CBE, Chief Nurse Adult Social Care, Department of Health and Social Care surprised Dr Crystal Oldman CBE, The QNI’s Chief Executive Officer with the Adult Social Care Award for her work supporting social care nursing. Professor Sturdy said, ‘Dr Crystal Oldman has done so much to support social care nursing. Well deserved recognition for her huge contribution.’

With thanks to our event photographers, Kate Stanworth and Anna Gordon.



Notes to Editors

FELLOWS Biographies

Dr Michelle Acorn

Dr Acorn is the inaugural Chief Nurse of the International Council of Nurses since 2021 advancing global nursing and health policy. In 2018 she provided ministerial strategic expertise as the Provincial Chief Nursing Officer in Ontario, Canada. She is a Doctor of Nurse Practitioner/Nursing Practice, dually registered as a Primary Health Care and Adult Nurse Practitioner, and certified Global Nurse Consultant. Michelle was inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian and American Academy of Nursing, and with the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland. Dr Acorn pioneered a Nurse Practitioner–led model of inpatient hospital care. Michelle is recognized for her leadership, mentorship, and scholarship.

Professor Gina Awoko Higginbottom MBE

Gina was appointed in 2015 as the Mary Seacole Professor of Ethnicity and Community Health at the University of Nottingham – the first nurse of BME origin to hold a professorship in a Russell Group university in England and is now Professor Emerita. She holds a substantial track record of publication (over 250 academic publications of all genres). She is a recipient of a number of awards including a National Primary Care Research Fellowship which supported her PhD. She has held visiting professorships at Karolinska Institute, Sweden, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California, Davis, Seattle University, and the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her research focuses on ethnic minority populations and immigrant health, including social exclusion and equity in healthcare and ethno-cultural diversity in care giving. She is a member of the UK NHS Race and Health Observatory’s academic reference group and Maternity Action Group, is Vice President of the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA) and a member of the NIHR Research Professor Selection Committee.

Paul Labourne QN

Paul Labourne is a registered nurse with over 37 years of experience and currently provides professional advice to Ministers, the Welsh Government and the NHS on primary and community care. His previous roles include deputy director of nursing roles, as well as senior management roles within the NHS in both hospital and community organisations. Paul has undertaken leadership studies at Harvard and visited integrated community services in the Netherlands. Paul provides the nursing voice for decarbonisation and climate change within Welsh Government. He is the author of a number of papers including national guidance in Wales.

Helen Mehra QN

Helen Mehra started her career working in a community hospital in London during which time she achieved a qualification in tropical medicine. This then led her on to midwifery training and she went on to work in Trinidad before travelling to the Indian Himalayas to work as a volunteer midwife. Upon her return to the UK, Helen worked as a community midwife before qualifying as a district nurse in 1992. Helen also completed the Mary Seacole postgraduate qualification in healthcare leadership and became a community matron in 2009. Helen is an independent prescriber and a passionate district nurse. Helen proudly became a Queen’s Nurse in 2015. After completing the QNI Executive Nurse Leadership Programme in 2019, Helen was successful in being appointed to the role of Head of Nursing and Integrated pathways for Enfield Community Services. Helen became a trustee of the QNI in 2021 and in 2022, she took up the role of Chair of the QNI’s Community Nurse Executive Network.

Professor Ruth Northway OBE

Ruth was the first Professor of Learning Disability Nursing in the UK. As an academic, Ruth specialises in learning disabilities, participatory action research, and safeguarding. After two decades at the University of South Wales, Ruth has recently retired and is now an Emeritus Professor at the institution. Ruth has also held a Visiting Professorship at Ulster University’s School of Nursing. She is a member of the editorial committee of the Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and was previously the journal’s editor-in-chief from 2013 to 2019. In 2011, she became the chair of the Royal College of Nursing Research Society. Ruth has also led the Learning Disability Ministerial Advisory Group within the Welsh Government. She was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Nursing in 2003. Ruth was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2016 Birthday Honours for services to learning disability nursing. In 2018, Ruth won Nursing Times’ Chief Nursing Officers’ Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Sam Sherrington QN

Sam is a Registered Nurse, with the Community Specialist Practitioner Qualification in District Nursing and a Nurse Prescriber. Sam is National Deputy Director of Community Nursing, in the Chief Nursing Officer’s Directorate at NHS England. In 2023 for NHS75, Sam was listed amongst 75 nurses and midwives whose work has had an especially significant impact on the NHS between 1948-2023. Sam holds a number of national roles, including chair of Association for Prescribers UK and co-chair of European, UK and Ireland committee Prescribing Research in Medicines Management (PRIMM). Sam is well published and has won a number of awards, most notably The Eileen Steele Memorial Award for Caring. Sam holds an MSc Nursing (Cancer), a post graduate Leadership and Management qualification, is a Top Directors NHS Leadership Academy graduate and is ILM level 7 Executive coach and mentor. She is a founding Director of Health and Education Cooperative.

Barbara Stilwell

Barbara Stilwell is a nurse, health visitor and Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner with a decades long interest in public health and in supporting health worker performance through a range of education and practice initiatives. She has worked for the WHO and for non-profit organizations as a technical specialist in workforce development and education, has lived in Switzerland, the USA, as well as countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. Barbara returned to the UK in 2018 to lead the global advocacy campaign, Nursing Now from 2018, through the challenges of the pandemic, until it ended in 2021. She is now working as a consultant on a global research and implementation project on nurse leadership as well as editing a book on global health which will be published in 2024. In the UK, Barbara Stilwell is best known for introducing the nurse practitioner programme and role. She is a Fellow of the RCN and of the American Academy of Nursing.

Dr Emma Wadey

Emma is a clinically active mental health nurse with over 27 years of extensive strategic and technical knowledge and experience across a wide range of health settings. Enthusiastic about the provision and transformation of effective and recovery based mental health services she has led the development of new and innovative services for the most vulnerable in our society. During COVID, she was the clinical lead for the National Mental Health, response cell providing expert clinical oversight during the pandemic. Emma is committed to social justice and improving patient care especially those from marginalised groups and is particularly skilled in the development of national policy and translating research into practice. During her career she has specialised in the prevention of suicide and promotion of health and wellbeing, developing national suicide prevention toolkits and the implementation of Professional Nurse Advocates (PNA) to all healthcare settings.


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