Tributes to Jean Orr, the nurse educator whose legacy is a culture of caring

Professor Orr founded the school of nursing and midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast

Professor Orr founded the school of nursing and midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast

Professor Jean Orr, a leader in nurse education who leaves an indelible mark at the
school she established at Queen’s

Nurses have led tributes to Jean Orr, founder of the school of nursing and midwifery at Queen's University Belfast, who has died.

Today's head of school Donna Fitzsimons said: 'Professor Orr had superb vision and academic judgement, setting up a school that would educate graduate nurses across each of the four fields of nursing, and midwifery – making a substantial contribution to healthcare in Northern Ireland.'

Distinguished career in nurse education and leadership

Professor Fitzsimons said Professor Orr enjoyed a distinguished career at Queen's and remained in touch following her retirement 12 years ago. Last year, she was honoured with a portrait commissioned to hang in the university's Great Hall.

'She has left an indelible mark on the staff and students and her legacy of professionalism and culture of caring remains in place,’ Professor Fitzsimons added.

Chief nursing officer for Northern Ireland (NI) Charlotte McArdle paid tribute to Professor Orr on Twitter, with replies showing the depth of respect for her professional achievements.

Recognition of a substantial professional legacy

In 2018, Professor Orr was listed as one of top 70 nurses to have shaped the NHS, as part of its 70th anniversary celebrations.

When made CBE in 2004, Professor Orr noted the honour was as much a tribute to colleagues as recognition of her own achievements.

A native of Belfast, Professor Orr worked first as a health visitor before becoming a lecturer at the University of Manchester, finally moving in the 1990s to be head of school at Queen's.

Contribution to an understanding of the Troubles and its impact

Among her contributions to the profession is Nurses’ Voices from the Northern Ireland Troubles, a book she co-edited with Margaret Graham.

Published in 2013 by RCN Publishing, it chronicles the anguish and bloodshed faced by Northern Ireland’s nurses during three decades of the Troubles.

Latterly, Professor Orr was patron of the Wave Trauma Centre charity, which offers support to victims of the Troubles.

She died suddenly at home on 11 January.

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