Published on: 20 May 2020

Senior nurse Nicola Peat is a passionate believer in going above and beyond for her patients and their loved ones.

So, when a bereaved relative found herself stranded alone, hundreds of miles away from home at Christmas, Nicola didn’t hesitate and invited her to join her own family’s celebrations.

Now, Nicola, who is currently working with COVID-19 patients in intensive care at South Tyneside District Hospital, has been recognised in the latest round of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust’s Excellence Reporting nominations. Under the scheme, staff are encouraged to share examples of excellence demonstrated by colleagues.

Chief Executive Ken Bremner personally presented Nicola with a letter of thanks for her act of kindness towards Angela Robinson-Coverdale, aged 80.

After spending hours on Christmas Eve with her brother-in-law, Alfie Coverdale, who was being cared for in the Surgical Centre at the District Hospital, great-grandmother Mrs Robinson-Coverdale, who lives in Cambridgeshire, reluctantly left to return home. On arriving at Newcastle Central Station, however, she discovered she had missed her train and was, therefore, unable to get home that night. Distressed, and anxious about Mr Coverdale, she returned to the District Hospital and was able to be with him when he died half an hour later.

Nicola, who has worked at the District Hospital for 19 years and whose usual role is as ward manager of the Surgical Centre, said: “I wasn’t on duty but my colleagues contacted me because they knew I would want to be aware of the situation as I had built up a real rapport with Angela. She is a former nurse herself and is so lovely. I rang to speak to her and she was so sad as her brother-in-law had just died. I couldn’t bear to think of her all alone at Christmas and asked if she’d like to come to me and she said yes.”

Mrs Robinson-Coverdale spent Christmas Day in East Boldon with Nicola and her husband, David, their children, Jacob, 15, and Isabelle, 12, David’s mother, Dorothy Peat, Nicola’s brother, Paul Campbell, and family friend Nick Varley.

Nicola said: “We all had a great time. She was such good company; she has so many stories to tell and she writes poetry. My own mother, who was also a nurse, died last September and Jacob said ‘You know, Mam, granny would have loved her.”

Mrs Robinson-Coverdale was delighted to hear about the recognition for Nicola in the form of her Excellence Reporting letter.

She said: “I couldn’t fault the nursing Alfie received from Nicola and her team and not a day goes by when I don’t think of Nicola’s kindness, patience and tolerance. Compassion shines from her and she is a role model for any nurse. I was upset at the prospect of spending Christmas Day apart from my own family but it was fabulous spending it with Nicola and her family who enfolded me in their love at a time of grief. It was a different Christmas but one I shall never forget. My children will be eternally grateful for what she did for me.” 

Nicola added: “It was a wonderful surprise to receive the Excellence Reporting letter; it absolutely made my day. It was particularly welcome at the moment when we are all working so hard in the pandemic.”  

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive Ken Bremner said: “Nicola went the extra mile and did a wonderful thing and I am delighted she has received this recognition. She is a credit to our Trust and to the nursing profession as a whole.”