Top award for Dunedin nurse

Felicity Gapes, pictured with some of the people she helped in the Jongili area of South Sudan. Her work in the country included developing a first aid programme for South Sudan Red Cross. Photo: Supplied
Felicity Gapes, pictured with some of the people she helped in the Jongili area of South Sudan. Her work in the country included developing a first aid programme for South Sudan Red Cross. Photo: Supplied
A Kiwi nurse who hails from Dunedin has received the highest international nursing distinction for her work in troubled and war-torn regions.

Red Cross nurse Felicity Gapes is one of 29 nurses from 19 countries to be awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal this year.

Ms Gapes became a registered nurse in 1985, and started working in the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement in 2004, joining peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Timor Leste, and a relief mission in Papua New Guinea.

She has also worked in Somalia, South Sudan and Myanmar and the Pacific Islands.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) awards the medal to nurses in recognition of exceptional courage and devotion to victims of armed conflict or natural disaster, as well as exemplary service or a pioneering spirit in public health or nursing education.

Ms Gapes described herself as ''truly humbled and gobsmacked'' by the award.

''It was so utterly unexpected.

''Like most nurses, for me I'm just doing my job and I feel privileged to be part of a team trying to provide the basics of healthcare to those affected by conflict.''

Conflict brought out the best and the worst in people, she said.

''Working in this environment is challenging, heartbreaking and frustrating but also incredibly rewarding.

''The people I have worked with and met make this more than a job, and the support from family, friends and New Zealand Red Cross is, and will always remain, instrumental for me.''

Her roles with Red Cross included clinic management, preventive health intervention, first aid training, and monitoring the health of people in detention and programme management.

NZ Red Cross national president Kerry Nickels said Ms Gapes was ''a dedicated and highly skilled nurse who is committed to helping vulnerable populations''.

She is the 32nd New Zealander to be awarded the medal in its 104-year history, and will be officially presented with the medal at an investiture ceremony later in the year.

elena.mcphee@odt.co.nz

Add a Comment