14 January 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

A native of Emyvale in Co Monaghan was recently awarded an honorary MBE in recognition of her long and distinguished service in the field of nursing.
Mrs Ann Readhead, born Ann McKenna and from Figullar in Emyvale, was presented with the insignia of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by the British Minister for Public Health Anne Milton in the Department of Health in October.
The honour recognises a 33-year career with the National Health Service in Britain and her contribution not alone to the nursing of the elderly patients in her care but an extraordinary fund-raising campaign that has garnered £300,000 to date for the development of a sensory garden for geratology patients at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, in a letter congratulating the Emyvale woman on being recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, told her: “I am deeply impressed by the way you have been able to channel your commitment to improving the services delivered to old people into your fund-raising efforts.” The Prime Minister described the campaign Mrs Readhead spearheaded as “a phenomenal effort”, and, thanking her for her service, stated: “Your commitment to patients is what makes everyone in this country proud of the NHS.”
Ann, whose sister Josie McCluskey lives at Cavancope in Emyvale, received her early education at Knockconan, Ballyoisin and spent some time at the Technical School in Monaghan Town (now Beech Hill College) before going to England at the age of fourteen, where she continued her education in Oxford before entering the nursing profession. She is married to Colin Readhead and has four sons. The family resides at Whitney in Oxfordshire.
In her time as an Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Sister, she has been closely involved with the relocation of the geratology unit from the Radcliffe Infirmary to John Radcliffe, and its subsequent refurbishment.
An integral contributor to many aspects of the hospital’s development, her especial contribution was in championing the creation of a sensory garden for the elderly patients in her care.
“She has worked tirelessly, showing great determination, to have the garden built to the highest standard, and in her voluntary role as Projects Manager has helped raise £200,000 for the garden and equipment,” the hospital recently stated.
“Her work will benefit all patients in Geratology both present and future. Her passion has also raised the profile of the care for elderly patients in the [NHS] Trust and the community as a whole.”
Ann has received congratulations on her honour from the President of the UK’s Royal College of Nursing, Maura Buchanan, and from the Acting Permanent Secretary of the UK Department of Health, Richard Douglas.
Presenting the Emyvale native with her MBE in October, UK Public Health Minister Anne Milton thanked her personally for her outstanding contribution to nursing and in particular her fund-raising efforts for the Department of Clinical Geratology at the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital.
The Minister stated: “In a career spanning 33 years she had cared for many patients in a variety of settings. In the last six years she has shown a dogged determination to improve services for older people, including their physical, psychological, spiritual and social needs. In short, she has become a champion of older people, extending this support to the carers of her patients.
“She has also been instrumental in setting up a charitable fund for the Geratology department at the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital with a focus on creating a therapeutic environment.
“Ann passionately believed such an environment could be achieved with a sensory garden which incorporated a Therapies Assessment area, within an acute hospital setting. Over nine months her commitment to this project intensified and she was supported in this by being seconded to fund-raising from her substantive post. She continues with this work for this cause in her own time, now that she has returned to her paid Sister’s post.
“She has been an ambassador both for the Department of Clinical Geratology and the Trust by going out to local community groups, voluntary agencies, commercial and retail institutions and local schools, selling the vision for improving the standard of service delivery for older people.
“She has been the driving force, her tenacity and resourcefulness have galvanised many groups to become involved in the project. As a result, Ann has managed to raise in excess of £130,000 over a period of nine months, and £300,000 to date.
“So now, in recognition of this outstanding contribution to nursing and fund-raising for the Geratology development, Her Majesty The Queen has appointed you to be an honorary Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
“It is with great pleasure that, on Her Majesty’s behalf, I present you with the badge of the Order. May I congratulate you and your family, and offer you my best wishes for the future.”

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