A long-serving Oakham School Senior Nurse is swapping her stethoscope for golf clubs as she retires 24 years after joining the School.
Gilly Grant joined Oakham in September 1998 and is now reflecting on her many years in the Medical Centre, having looked after thousands of pupils during her time.
Whilst she came from a role as a Sister in the neo-natal unit at Leicester Royal Infirmary, her 44 year nursing career has covered an array of different roles and challenges.
We caught up with Gilly to talk about her time at Oakham School, her favourite memories and her plans for retirement.
What made you want to join Oakham School?
I had a friend who was a School Nurse and it was something that I’d always wanted to do. Moving to Oakham School from a hospital setting was very different to what I was used to but caring for children had always been my passion and I loved it as soon as I joined.
What is involved in your day-to-day role?
My main responsibilities as Senior Nurse at Oakham School include seeing to all of the children that come through the door, whether that be those with minor illness or minor injuries. I also do asthma clinics, vaccination clinics and a lot of work around mental health.
What have you enjoyed most about your role?
Among the many things I love about my job, I’ve always really liked not knowing what situation I am going to need to deal with next and what injury or illness I might have to treat.
It’s a very rewarding job taking care of children when they need you the most and I’ve loved being there for them. I also think it’s really good how much care we have on offer at the Medical Centre and that it’s not just physical health we treat, but also mental health with our counsellors. I’m very proud to work in this environment and love the team around me.
How has Covid-19 impacted your role over the past couple of years?
Whilst I’ve been a nurse for more than 40 years, there has never been anything quite like Covid before and it was a very unusual and very uncertain time for us all. There were many changes that we have had to implement in School over the pandemic but we have followed guidelines and have managed to do this all safely and with the pupils’ best interests at heart.
Prior to Covid, we had a lot of pupils who would walk-in to the Medical Centre and this would probably be anywhere between 40 to 70 pupils a day.
Now, we have an appointment system which means we see around 15 to 30 children each day and that things are able to be much more organised. There have been a lot of changes since the pandemic though as the cleaning and preparation times in-between appointments are a lot longer now.
One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is our service as all pupils still get the same care they ever would have.
Why do you think you’ve stayed working at the School for so long?
It’s because I have, genuinely, really enjoyed it and I love the community. I’ve been really lucky here and I’ve been able to meet so many amazing people during my time at Oakham. For me, it’s not even just been about the children as I’ve gotten to meet so many teaching and support staff members over the years.
What are your favourite memories?
I was lucky enough to be asked to go on a School trip to South Africa in 2017 which was absolutely amazing. I went as the Senior Nurse and accompanied more than 60 girls who were playing Hockey and Netball out there. It was really nice to go there and support the pupils whilst being on-hand to look after them if I was needed.
It was a very unique opportunity, and it was always something I’ll remember.
What are your retirement plans?
I think that whilst I don’t have big retirement plans it’s the right time for me to do it and I’m ready to take life at a different pace. I do Golf, that’s my passion so I’m excited to do a bit more golfing in my free time.
What will you miss the most?
I’ll miss the children and my colleagues. We’re a family at this School and I think it’s a really lovely community.
I just want to say a big thank you to the School for having me and for all of the fantastic experiences I’ve had. From the bottom of my heart I’ve really enjoyed my time here and I’ve loved every minute of it.
Whilst Gilly will be leaving the School at the end of the academic year, she’ll only be a phone call away for the Medical Centre as she’s staying on-call as a Bank Nurse when needed. She will also be back at the School on occasions to work with Sports and the Houses at School to give medical advice.
Abby Oakenfull, Medical Centre Manager, has worked with Gilly for many years and shared some fond words about her colleague ahead of her retirement.
“The care, kindness, and knowledge that Gilly has shown to all that she crosses paths with, is an inspiration to all that meet her and to her profession. Gilly has always put the interest of the child at the forefront of any decision she has made and has instilled complete confidence in patients that she has treated over the many years. The Medical Centre, and the team within the centre, wouldn’t be what it is today if it hadn’t been for Gilly.
“Nothing is ever too much for Gilly, and her tireless commitment to Oakham School is something she should be incredibly proud of.”