Nurses’ achievements recognised in new year’s honours

Leading Mary Seacole statue campaigner and the UK’s only nursing professor of stroke care both made a dame in the new year’s honours.

A trailblazing nurse who was one of the leading figures in the Mary Seacole statue campaign has been made a dame in the new year’s honours.

Elizabeth Anionwu
DBE Elizabeth Anionwu.
Picture: David Gee

Elizabeth Anionwu, emeritus professor of nursing at the University of West London, was honoured for services to nursing and to the statue appeal, which unveiled a sculpture of the Crimean War heroine in London last June.

She is one of 19 nurses and midwives recognised for their work in fields including dementia, public health, women's health and caring for homeless people.

‘Shocked and delighted’

Dame Elizabeth told Nursing Standard she was ‘shocked and delighted’ at the news.

‘It’s been quite a year. We’ve had so many good things said about the statue, I’ve published my memoirs, Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union, and now this. I think it’s good for nursing that I have become a dame.’

The celebrated nurse was born in Birmingham in 1947, after her parents met while at Cambridge University. Until the age of nine, she lived in a Catholic children’s home, while her mother attempted to find work after her father returned to Nigeria.

It was in the children’s home that she made up her mind to become a nurse, following in the footsteps of the nun who distracted her by making her laugh while treating her painful eczema.

Dame Elizabeth said she believes her work in sickle cell disease – she is patron of the Sickle Cell Society – also played a part in her honour.

‘I set up the first sickle cell intervention and screening service in Brent, London, in 1979, which enabled others to develop similar services after. I think there are about 30 now.

‘I had people contacting me from all over the country asking for my advice on how to run these types of services. I’d realised during my health visitor days how much sickle cell services were needed. Families needed information and culturally appropriate counselling.’

Stroke care professor

Caroline Watkins, University of Central Lancashire professor of stroke and older people’s care, was also made a dame for services to nursing and older people’s care.

Caroline Watkins
DBE Caroline Watkins.

She is the only nursing professor of stroke care in the UK and leads the internationally renowned Clinical Practice Research Unit for stroke research.

RCN president and clinical nurse specialist in women’s health Cecilia Anim was made a CBE for services to women’s health. The honour comes after Ms Anim was re-elected to serve a second term as president in November.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: 'Cecilia is a role model and an inspiration to many working in the NHS. She has worked tirelessly to promote the cause of nursing and support RCN members for more than three decades.

'She embodies the best of nursing. This honour is a wonderful and very welcome recognition of everything she has done for the nursing profession.'

Unison head of nursing Gail Adams was made an OBE for services to nursing and public healthcare.

Ms Adams, who announced in October she would be stepping down as head of nursing to head the union’s professional services unit, told Nursing Standard she was ‘proud to work in the nursing profession’. ‘I’m honoured and humbled that someone put me forward,’ she said.

‘I grew up on a council estate brought up by two parents who had low-paid jobs. If they were alive today they would be very proud.’

Other nurses honoured include Deborah Sturdy, nurse adviser for Care England and editorial advisory board member for RCNi journal Nursing Older People. She was made an OBE for services to older people, dementia care and nursing.

Ros Alstead, director of nursing and clinical standards at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, was made an OBE for services to nursing.

She said: 'Entering my 40th year in nursing and 20th year as a director of nursing I am very proud to be a nurse and regard the award as recognition and celebration for the amazing work nurses do every day, helping people when they need it most.'

Click here for a picture gallery of nurses honoured


Full list of nurses in new year’s honours


Elizabeth Anionwu, emeritus professor of nursing, University of West London. For services to nursing and the Mary Seacole statue appeal.

Caroline Watkins, professor of stroke and older people’s care, college of health and wellbeing, University of Central Lancashire. For services to nursing and older people’s care.


Cecilia Anim, RCN president and clinical nurse specialist in women’s health. For services to women’s health. 

Commodore Inga Kennedy, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service.

Paul Martin, University of the West of Scotland depute principal and former Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland. For services to healthcare and education.

Geraldine Walters, formerly director of nursing and midwifery, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, now director of nursing and midwifery education, standards and policy, Nursing and Midwifery Council. For services to nursing and midwifery.


Gail Adams, Unison head of nursing. For services to nursing and public healthcare.

Ros Alstead, director of nursing and clinical standards, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. For services to nursing.

Lynda Bonner, founder of National Nursing and Midwifery Network. For services to the treatment of venous thromboembolism.

Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, head of maternity, NHS England. For services to midwifery.

Jane Gray, consultant nurse. For services to homeless and vulnerable people in the Midlands.

Joyce Hallu. For services to nursing.

Angela McLernon, chief executive, Northern Ireland Practice and Education for Nurses and Midwives. For services to nursing.

Deborah Sturdy, nurse adviser, Care England and editorial advisory board member for RCNi journal Nursing Older People. For services to older people, dementia care and nursing.


Jeanette Henderson, formerly senior charge nurse, Ailsa Hospital, NHS Ayrshire and Arran. For services to health care. 

British Empire Medal

Fiona Haston, Macmillan clinical nurse specialist, head and neck cancer, NHS Lothian. For services to health care and charity.

Theresa Thomas, staff nurse, medical assessment unit, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. For services to nursing care in Gwent.

Royal Red Cross

Warrant officer Lee Bond, Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service.

Major Jennifer Ritchie, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps.

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