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Faces of NHS London

To mark Black History Month, the NHS in London has revealed 36 prominent individuals it has chosen to be ‘the faces’ of the NHS Trusts in the capital. Read their stories by clicking the pins on the interactive map below. Alternatively, scroll down to read the stories and celebrate the amazing contributions made by each highlighted individual.

There are so many amazing stories to tell. If you would like to read more stories or to tell your own, please visit our online gallery.

Faces of NHS London

To mark Black History Month, the NHS in London has revealed 36 prominent individuals it has chosen to be ‘the faces’ of the NHS Trusts in the capital. Read their stories by clicking the pins on the interactive map above. Alternatively, scroll down to read the stories and celebrate the amazing contributions made by each highlighted individual.

There are so many amazing stories to tell. If you would like to read more stories or to tell your own, please visit our online gallery.

Ade Odunlade - Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust
Ade Odunlade is a qualified Health Care Leader with a wealth of clinical and operational management experience gained from working in a variety of senior positions over the last 25 years within the public and private sector.

He is highly motivated to deliver clear outcomes and results for patients and staff.  Ade has a wealth of knowledge and a demonstrable track record of delivering outcomes for the Trust.

Ade has an underlying philosophy of helping individuals to achieve and deliver high standard of work. He has a sense of responsibility in ensuring and safeguarding high standards by holding people to account and enabling staff to focus on patients’ needs with compassion and care.

As a mentor, Ade asks his mentees not to be passive receivers but active participants. He also encourages staff to honour commitments, expect support but don’t expect miracles without hard work, communicate clearly, assume responsibility for own development, be teachable, and to listen to what is being said and not said, especially how it is being said.

Dr. Agatha Nortley-Meshe - London Ambulance Service NHS Trust
Dr Agatha Nortley-Meshe is a practising GP in South London and is also an Assistant Medical Director for the London Ambulance Service (LAS) where she leads on integrated urgent care. Agatha is an inspirational leader at the LAS and, in her role as Head of Integrated Urgent Care (clinical), she provides strategic clinical leadership for the Trust’s NHS111 services, which cover 40% of London.

Agatha chairs the LAS’s Black and Minority (BME) Ethnic Network and is the Trust’s clinical lead for the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES). She also sits on the national ambulance BME forum. In 2018 she completed the NHS WRES Expert programme as part of cohort 1, and has used this experience to champion the BME agenda within LAS, making a real difference to the working lives of BME staff and volunteers. Agatha is passionate about supporting others to develop confidence and leadership skills. From her own experience, she is very much aware of the inequalities facing people from BME backgrounds in terms of career progression. She says:

“Although society has come a long way, people from BME backgrounds still have to work that bit harder to move up the career ladder: you can’t be average, you have to excel”.

She is keen to support others to do just that and says:

“It’s a case of putting yourself out there, constantly developing your skills and making the connections you need in order to move forward”.

She is a role model to colleagues of BME backgrounds, saying:

“Where people can see someone who looks like them in a senior position it reinforces the idea that they can achieve their own aspirations. As leaders from BME backgrounds, we have to be visible, approachable, provide support and open doors for others to develop and excel”.

Agatha is a trained mentor, and over the years has provided informal coaching and mentoring to support personal and career development for healthcare colleagues. This includes providing mentoring to women from several different countries via the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

Akala - Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust

Akala is an award-winning hip-hop artist, author, journalist and activist on equality.

He founded The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company; a music theatre production company aimed at exploring the social, cultural and linguistic parallels between the works of Shakespeare and that of modern-day hip-hop artists. Alongside the patronage of Ian Mckellen, the organisation has collaborated with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Kate Tempest and George the Poet to bring bespoke educational and social entrepreneurship development programmes to young people.

He has spoken at length on policing and the profiling of black communities, and has led the debate on decolonising the curriculum in British schools and universities.

His book, Natives, has been a great success and sold more than 100,000 and received excellent reviews.

Amani Simpson - North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust
Amani Simpson is an award-winning film maker, social entrepreneur, youth leader and role model.

He is also a stab victim, and has used his personal experiences and story, told skilfully through awe-inspiring poetry and film, to develop a powerful programme of public health intervention targeting youth-on-youth violence and knife crime.

Born at North Mid Hospital in 1990, and having grown up in Winchmore Hill and Enfield, at the age of 21, Amani was stabbed seven times while intervening in an attempted robbery.

Describing the night he got stabbed, Amani recalled that while being rushed by ambulance for major trauma surgery:

“I had this kind of very surreal conversation with God and I said that if I had another chance to live my life, I would use it steer young people away from the negative.”

‘Amani’ – partly filmed at North Mid in August 2018, and featuring at least three North Mid staff among its actors – was launched online in early 2019, racking up 2 million views in just four days. The powerful short has formed a central part of Amani’s working touring schools, colleges, community groups and advocacy with community leaders.

Amani was recently shortlisted out of 28,000 as Positive Role Model at the 2019 National Diversity Awards, and is an ambassador for the Mayor of London’s London Needs You Alive campaign.

Angela Simiyu - Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust
Angela Simiyu, a nurse at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, is one of the Rising Stars, recognised by the Royal College of Nursing to mark Black History Month.

The 30-year-old, who grew up in Kenya, was shocked and excited when she found out she’d been nominated by Kay O’Reilly, the Trust’s lead nurse for respiratory conditions. She said:

“What an honour to represent my Trust this Black History Month. Not only being nominated, but winning, has made me feel elated and highly valued. I love everything about nursing. It’s the only thing I know so I am hugely passionate about it.”

Angela was nominated for her hard work during the Covid-19 pandemic. On one nightshift, she took over running the team on her ward, teaching others how to use new machinery, while keeping patients safe. Being based in a respiratory ward meant Angela has been caring for Covid-19 patients throughout.

As the only nurse in her family, Angela’s caring nature meant she always knew it was what she wanted to do. Having qualified at the Nairobi Hospital, she worked on an endoscopy unit there for two years before her father encouraged her to further her career and experience by moving to the UK.

She’s worked at the Trust, her first experience of the NHS, for the last three years. Although she’s spoken English all her life, Angela still had some language issues when she began nursing in the UK, and fondly remembers how her patients helped her. She said:

“I got confused by ‘tea’ as dinner or an afternoon snack, and a cup of tea. Luckily one of my patients helped me by explaining to ask if they wanted a ‘cup of tea’!”

Anna Mbachu - Barnet, Enfield & Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust
As well as her NHS role, Anna is also a local authority Councillor; she is very passionate about humanity and treats everyone with respect and dignity.

She supports people with severe and enduring mental health problems during their journey towards recovery. In this process Anna acts as an advocate especially for service users who are struggling to secure the appropriate accommodation necessary for their recovery. Anna works in collaboration with other health care professionals, local authorities, carers and other agencies to ensure that service users’ identified needs relating to accommodation are sorted out prior to discharge.

Anna’s non-judgemental approach has always given motivation to the less privileged especially those from ethnic minorities. She has always stood firm for justice and always given people confidence that those from ethnic minorities are equally represented in decision-making within the Trust and in the wider community. Anna is an exemplary professional who encourages other black women to explore their potential irrespective of whatever situation they find themselves. She is outspoken, tolerant, accommodating, assertive and a good listener – truly, a woman of substance.

Annick Fotso - Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Carmen Brooks-Johnson - St. George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Carmen Brooks-Johnson, a retired St George’s midwife, was a much-loved and respected member of staff – so much so, that their birth centre is named after her – the Carmen Suite. Carmen was born in Jamaica and came to England in 1961 to train as a nurse. A few years after qualifying, she decided to train as a midwife. She started working at St George’s in 1979 as a Senior Sister in the new delivery suite on Lanesborough wing.

She became a supervisor of midwives in 1991, later becoming an advanced midwifery practitioner in the community, and working in a team integrating hospital and community in 1997. Following retirement from the midwifery service, Carmen worked in the Trust’s occupational health team on the staff bank for two years.

Lord David Pitt - University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Medic, political pioneer and labour peer for Hamstead. The late Lord David Pitt of Hampstead was the longest serving black Parliamentarian, having been granted a life peerage in 1975.

He spent his life speaking out for the underrepresented black community in Great Britain. Born on the island of Grenada in the West Indies, in 1932 he won Grenada’s only overseas scholarship to attend the prestigious medical school at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

In 1947, Pitt decided to set up a medical practice in London, a year before the NHS was born. In the 1950s, Pitt was one of the few black people active in defending the growing black population of Great Britain against discrimination and prejudice. In the 1960s and 1970s, he organised to help immigrants and improve race relations. Pitt became the first and only chair of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination (CARD), an association founded with the encouragement of Martin Luther King Jr.

Pitt believed in fighting racism within the existing power structure. In 1959, Pitt sought to represent London’s wealthy Hampstead district in Parliament, becoming the first West Indian black person to seek a seat in Parliament. After a campaign plagued by racist insinuations, Pitt lost the election. In 1961, however, Pitt won election representing the ethnically mixed, working-class Hackney district in London’s city government, the London County Council (LCC).

In 1964 this body was absorbed by the Greater London Council (GLC). He served as deputy chair of the GLC from 1969 to 1970 and in 1974 became the first black chair, a post he held until 1975. Pitt paved the way for the multiracial politics for which the GLC became known. In 1970 Pitt ran for Parliament again, this time as a candidate in London’s Clapham district, a secure Labour seat that many believed he would win. He lost by an unusually large margin; race undoubtedly played a large role in his defeat. He was bitterly disappointed and did not attempt to run for Parliament again. In 1975 Prime Minister Harold Wilson appointed Pitt to the House of Lords as Lord Pitt of Hampstead. According to Pitt himself, however, his most valued honour was his election as president of the British Medical Association from 1985 to 1986, a position few general practitioners achieve.

After his death, many lamented that Pitt “should have been the first Labour Member of Parliament.”

Doreen Lawrence - Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust
Doreen Lawrence is an anti-racist campaigner who seeks justice for her murdered son Stephen Lawrence, who died in 1993.

Doreen was born in Jamaica and emigrated to the UK with her family in the 1960s when she was nine years old. She completed her schooling in and around Greenwich and worked in a bank for seven years before having her first child, Stephen, in 1974.

By 1993, after having two further children, Stuart and Georgina, she was living in Plumstead and enrolled on a counselling course at the University of Greenwich. It was also 1993 when her son Stephen was stabbed to death in a racially motivated attack in Eltham. Doreen’s history from then is defined by her love for Stephen, her moral clarity and her instinct to fight for justice to ensure her son did not die in vain. She set up the Stephen Lawrence Family Campaign and persevered through many obstacles to push for an inquiry into her son’s murder.

The damning enquiry touched on major issues with policing and the justice system with regards to black people. Many reforms, based directly on this investigation, have since been introduced and Doreen has emerged as one of the country’s leading voices on black injustice. She founded the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust to continue to provide support to black communities across the capital and the country.

Doreen has received many deserved accolades and distinctions for her work on racial justice, including an OBE and a peerage at the House of Lords. In her community, she will always be remembered as a loving mother whose grief and love for her family changed the course of the nation’s history for the better.

Eddie Nestor - East London NHS Foundation Trust

Eddie Nestor, is a British actor, stand-up comedian, TV and radio presenter, who is best known for his starring roles in The Real McCoy and Desmond’s, as well as appearing in Trainspotting.

He hosted, alongside Robbie Gee, the Imperial College Indian Society’s annual “East Meets West” charity show in 2007 and 2008. The show in both years was one of the most successful and popular charity shows in the UK, drawing over 1,750 people to the prestigious London Palladium in 2008. He appeared in the BBC’s Canterbury Tales and is a former Casualty star. He currently presents BBC London 94.9 FM’s show Drivetime from 4pm to 7pm on weekday evenings, replacing Henry Bonsu who left to pursue other broadcasting opportunities. He was voted “The Speech Broadcaster of the Year” at the Sony Radio Academy Awards 2007.

In February 2007, Eddie was diagnosed as having Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and kept a blog of his treatment and reactions. He is currently in remission.

Foluke Oyinlola - North East London NHS Foundation Trust
Foluke grew up in the city of Ibadan, Nigeria. She joined NEL in January 2019 as an Information Governance Subject Matter Expert Manager. She brought a wealth of data protection knowledge to the team, and actively impacts on new and exciting projects taking place within the NHS. She is a good team player and is always willing to help and lend a listening ear. Following the killing of George Floyd and the publication of the PHE racial disparity report, she recently delivered a workshop on ‘Unconscious Bias from Awareness to Action’.

Team members found the workshop to be really useful as it strengthened the teams understanding of how their actions impact others.

Her colleagues describe her as very approachable, warm and kind, always offering support, displaying great leadership qualities by being instrumental in promoting equality and diversity within the team. Foluke has a high emotional intelligence and will call to check if team members are ok when they seem to be stressed. She also supports colleagues with caring and patience. In addition, Foluke encourages team members with personal study, offering her support for free to allow equal access to educational opportunities for those who cannot afford expensive training courses.

Outside of work, Foluke has been involved in many community activities. For example, she ran a Saturday school (Rhema Learning Zone) which provided free and supplementary education for children (aged 4-16 years old) from all over London. She also organised summer schools, weekends and family day trips to encourage and reward the children for their hard work. More recently, Foluke has written and directed three plays as well as successfully organised summer and Christmas concerts at her local church. She has also worked to increase the confidence of children at her church by involving them in performing arts.

Foluke is one of the many amazing Black colleagues that we have in NEL. We are proud of our diverse workforce who constantly strive to deliver improved health services to local populations.

Dr. Harold A Moody - King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Dr. Harold Moody was born in Kingston, Jamaica on the 8th October 1882. Moody moved to London in 1904 to study medicine at King’s College Hospital and qualified as a doctor in 1910. However due to racial prejudice, he was unable to work at the hospital despite graduating at the top of his class.

This experience led Moody to set up his own GP practice in Peckham, south east London in 1913. Moody offered his services to poor families for free and also opened up his home to ‘travelling black people who couldn’t find a room or a meal elsewhere’. The racial prejudice Moody faced in London motivated him to campaign for the rights of black people.

In 1931, he founded the League of Coloured Peoples, a pressure group which lobbied trade unions, the Civil Service and Parliament for the improvement of race relations. Moody fought for causes including employment rights for black merchant seamen, fair pay for Trinidadian oil workers and the lifting of the colour bar in the British Armed Forces that had prevented the appointment of black officers.

Dr Harold Moody died on 24 April 1947, shortly after returning to England from the West Indies. His campaigning is credited as being key to the passing of the Race Relations Act in 1965.

Harry Aikines-Aryeetey - Epsom & St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust
Harry Aikines-Aryeetey is a sprinter from Carshalton, and is the first athlete to win gold medals in 100 and 200 metres at the World Youth Championships.

He was named the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year in 2005 and has since raced at the Commonwealth Games, the Olympic Games, the British Athletics Championships, the European Athletics Championships, the World Indoor Athletics Championships, the European Indoor Athletics Championships, and the World Athletics Championships. He won the 100 metres event at the 2020 British Athletics Championships this year.

John Alcindor - Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
Dr. John Alcindor 1873-1924 (died at St Mary’s Hospital). Born in Trinidad, he came to the UK after winning a medical scholarship to attend Edinburgh University. On graduating in 1899, he went on to work in several London hospitals before establishing his own general practice in Paddington 1907. Dr Alcindor was a black equal rights activist and did much for the cause during his time in the African Progress Union and was one of those behind the first Pan-African Conference in 1900 in London. He also carried out research and published articles on cancer, influenza and tuberculosis and worked to prevent syphilis and tuberculosis in Great Britain.

His research set the groundwork for the correlation between poverty, low quality food and unbalanced diets in poor health. In 1914, John was rejected in his attempt to join the First World War effort by the Royal Army Medical Corps, despite their desperate need for good doctors. Instead, he joined the British Red Cross as a volunteer and helped wounded soldiers at London railway stations on their return from the front line. He was later awarded a Red Cross medal for his life-saving work. In 2014, a blue-plaque was placed on the site of his Paddington practice.

John Boyega - Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust
John Boyega is a British Actor who rose to stardom as a lead in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Born and raised in Peckham, London, Boyega started acting in local productions at an early age, before studying at Hackney’s Identity School of Acting and taking on his first movie and TV roles.

In 2011 he received glowing reviews for his role in Sci-Fi comedy Attack the Block, before starring alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton in Half of a Yellow Sun, and headlining Imperial Dreams in 2014. After that, Boyega’s career hit the stratosphere when he took on the role of Finn in the highly-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which became one of the highest-grossing blockbusters in movie history. After Star Wars, Boyega starred alongside Emma Watson and Tom Hanks in indie Sci-Fi The Circle, and in Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit, a hard-hitting drama about the 1967 Detroit Riots.

In 2016, John Boyega received a BAFTA in the Rising Star category, along with Best Male Newcomer at the Empire Awards, and Male Revelation at Cannes Film Festival.

Boyega, who was born in London to parents of Nigerian descent, was praised for his impassionate speech at London’s Black Lives Matter rally on 3 June, following the killing of George Floyd. Despite acknowledging his words could have a detrimental impact on his career, Boyega continues to voice injustices and racism within society and commercial industries.

John Oke - Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust

John Oke died in October 2019 having lived in Kentish Town (near the hospital), and having founded the Camden Black Parents and Teachers Association (CBPTA) and the Odu Dua Housing Association. Born in Nigeria, he arrived in Britain as a teenager and trained as civil engineer before returning to Nigeria. He then returned to the UK in the 1970s and settled in Kentish Town for forty years. He identified that too many black children were leaving school without qualifications and in 1980 set up the CBPTA.

In 1986, he set up the Odu Dia Housing Association to support homeless black men in Camden, before widening the remit to support the homeless in Camden, Barnet and Brent. He was also a parent governor at Acland Burghley School and a governor at Edith Neville and St Michael’s CoE primary schools.

Josephine Jim - Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust

Josephine Jim is a paediatric nurse who has been working on the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) for 10 years at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust (GOSH).

Several years ago, Josephine won the Marie Curie Nurse of the Year Award. Her key responsibilities as a PICU nurse include looking after critically ill patients who may have life threatening or life-limiting conditions. She developed a special interest in haemodialysis which has led to her being the lead in this service for about 12 years.

Josephine co-authored the haemodialysis guidelines for ITU nurses and doctors at GOSH as well as the GOSH manual of nursing practices. She has also had the opportunity to act as an ambassador for the department and specialty, showcasing their world class achievements within this service by presenting at conferences in Australia and the United States of America. As a BAME sister in a leadership position she provides professional advice and support to BAME staff within her unit and strives to be a good role model to them.

The pandemic changed the way Josephine views herself, and her role. She is more determined to advocate for patients and make a difference for the BAME population too.

Dr. Julie-Anne Dowie - Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust

Julie-Anne was put forward by the Trust’s Equality Network as she is seen as an inspirational leader within the Trust. Compassionate and supportive, she also challenges and sets high standards and influences all professional groups in the Trust, not just the nursing workforce that she leads.

She has acted as a mentor to many staff encouraging others to follow in her footsteps. Julie-Anne has been a nurse for 35 years, commencing her nursing career as an Enrolled Nurse, she successfully converted to a Registered General Nurse and eventually gained a qualification as a Registered Sick Children’s Nurse. Julie-Anne went into nursing to care for people and feels it is an honour to be allowed to care for patients and their families at their most vulnerable time. She has had many proud moments in her career, amongst those was achieving a Doctorate in Leadership & Management, which she completed alongside her demanding career.

Ken Wakatama - West London NHS Trust

Ken Wakatama has been a qualified Mental Health Nurse (RMN) since April 1994. He has had a full, varied, enriched and extremely enjoyable career so far, with many challenges and opportunities arising.

Ken initially worked for the Barnet Health authority as a staff nurse for 2 years in the paediatric intensive care unit service. In 1996, he took up employment with the West London NHS Trust as a Staff Nurse working primarily in the HDU and Intensive Care Service.

He feels privileged to have worked across all the clinical settings in Mental Health Services, including in the high secure setting of Broadmoor Hospital. Ken has worked as a team leader, Clinical Nurse Manager, Acting Senior Clinical Manager and regularly provides cover in the capacity of Site Manager.

Ken has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the management and care of a complex group of patients with extensive mental health difficulties. Always looking to develop further, Ken gained a B.Sc. for violence reduction and has represented the Trust in various conferences.

Kofoworola Abeni Pratt - Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust
Kofoworola Pratt was the first qualified black nurse to work in the NHS, and was a pioneer of modern nursing in Nigeria. Born in Lagos in 1915, she came to the UK and was the first black student to attend the Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St Thomas’ Hospital. Kofoworola qualified as a state registered nurse in 1950, was a staff nurse at Evelina London Children’s Hospital in 1952, then a charge nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital the following year.

She returned to Nigeria in 1954, and following the country’s independence, Kofoworola set up a nursing school which was the basis for modern nursing practices in the country. Among her many posts, she became Chief Nursing Officer for Nigeria in 1965 and was the first black woman to be named Vice-President of the International Council of Nurses.

In 1973, Kofoworola was awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal, the highest international merit for a nurse.

Leroy Logan - Homerton University NHS Foundation Trust
Leroy Logan has been the chair of the Black Police Association and, in this capacity, was involved in the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and the Victoria Climbie Inquiry. He took a lead role in the Damilola Taylor investigation and, as a result, put forward the business case for affinity-based policing, which recognises the importance of the life skills of police officers and demonstrates the advantages of diversity in active policing. This led to the establishment of the award-winning Cultural and Communities Resource Unit at the Met.

As a member of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games’ Policing Co-ordination Team, he was involved in the planning for a safe and secure event. In 2000 he received an MBE for his contribution to policing.

Leroy is also very active in the community and in the advancement of race and equality issues. He is behind numerous award-winning programmes, including the thriving young peoples’ forum Young Black Positive Advocates (YBPA) and the Young Leaders for a Safer City, which are made up of graduates from the Leadership Programme launched in 2001.

Martin Griffiths - Barts Health NHS Trust
Martin has been recognised for his pioneering ward-based violence reduction service which he and fellow colleagues set up after operating on young knife victims admitted in their school uniforms. This award-winning scheme sees hospital staff and case workers at charity St Giles Trust helping young patients injured through gang crime while they are still being treated in the hospital to help break the cycle of violence at the point of crisis. In six years, this has reduced the number of young people returning to The Royal London Hospital with further injuries from 45% to less than 1%.

Last year Martin was appointed NHS England’s first clinical director for violence reduction after spending the last decade saving lives and lecturing school children on the dangers of carrying weapons to help prevent stabbings and other violent crimes. He is a top trauma surgeon who saved the life of the first person stabbed in the London Bridge terror attack and in a huge coincidence, had also saved the victim’s father’s life when he operated on his heart several years earlier.

Martin is a passionate campaigner for fairness and equality, and promotes diverse leadership in private and public services, particularly within the NHS. In 2018, Martin Griffiths won the Hero Doctor Award at the Daily Mirror NHS Heroes awards.

Mary Makarau - Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Mary Makarau came to the UK in 1974 eager to pursue her dream of working in the NHS as a nurse. After working at Edgware General Hospital and three years of training, she went on to study Midwifery at North Middlesex Hospital and then moved on to working in Paediatrics at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

In 1988, Mary pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Public Services Management, beginning her journey into her current specialism, where she delivers care and support to people living with and affected by HIV, and teaches them how to manage their long-term condition effectively, within the community and within their own homes.

In 1999, Mary embarked on a second degree, Masters in Public Services Management, part-time, whilst still working in the HIV field.
At Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Mary’s outstanding work educating and supporting HIV patients, members of the public and her fellow nursing colleagues has made her a worthy recipient of the Trust’s employee of the month award and coveted Patient Award at their 2019 Staff Awards.

Mary Seacole - Whittington Health NHS Trust
Mary Seacole was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1805. She followed in the footsteps of her Creole mother and became a doctress, nurse and businesswoman. Loving to travel, she coped single-handedly with a cholera epidemic in the Panamanian gold-prospecting town of Cruces. The death of a young child touched her deeply.

“I sat before the flickering fire, with my last patient in my lap – a poor, little, brown-faced orphan, scarce a year old, was dying in my arms, and I was powerless to save it. It may seem strange, but it is a fact, that I thought more of that little child than I did of the men who were struggling for their lives.”

So affected was Mary by this death that she undertook ‘her first and last’ post-mortem examination to try and discover more about the dreaded cholera that had killed the child. During a dinner in her honour, an American she had nursed back to health from this deadly disease, made the mistake of including this statement in his toast to her:

“I calculate, gentlemen, you’re all as vexed as I am that she’s not wholly white; and I guess, if we could bleach her by any means we would and thus make her acceptable in any company as she deserves to be. Gentlemen, I give you Aunty Seacole!”

Mary was so angry that after a few words of thanks she said:

“But I must say that I don’t altogether appreciate your friend’s kind wishes with respect to my complexion … and as to his offer of bleaching me, I should, even if it were practicable, decline it without any thanks. As to the society which the process might gain me admission into, all I can say is, that judging from the specimens I have met with here and elsewhere, I don’t think that I shall lose much by being excluded from it. So, gentlemen, I drink to you and the general reformation of American manners.”

Mary Seacole then became famous for nursing British soldiers on the frontline during the Crimean War. In London she had found it impossible to obtain a post with the group of nurses planning to join those who had already left to work under Florence Nightingale. Mary wondered:

“Was it possible that American prejudices against colour had some root here? Did these ladies shrink from accepting my aid because my blood flowed beneath a somewhat duskier skin than theirs?”

Mary overcame all the obstacles and raised the funds to pay for her passage to Turkey. On arrival in the Crimea she set up the British Hotel where she cooked tasty meals and sold provisions. In additions she nursed the soldiers in the battlefield and became widely known as ‘Mother Seacole’.

At the end of the Crimean War Mary Seacole returned to London bankrupt. Fortunately, her many friends rallied to her aid through a series of military fundraising galas. In 1857 she published her bestselling autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands. After more overseas travels Mary died in London on the 14th May 1881.

Although the Victorian media had published many articles about her, she was virtually forgotten after her death. Fortunately, in November 2003 Lord Clive Soley established the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal. This came about following several Caribbean women asking that he help ensure a fitting memorial for Mary. There was a long, but successful, fundraising campaign that lasted over 12 years. As a result, a beautiful monument was unveiled in the gardens of London’s St Thomas’ Hospital on the 30th June 2016 by Baroness Floella Benjamin.

Nnenna Osuji - Croydon Health Services NHS Trust
Dr Nnenna Osuji is the Medical Director, Deputy Chief Executive and Caldicott Guardian at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust. She has been a consultant haematologist for over a decade. Her clinical and academic career, spanning over twenty years in the NHS, has provided insight and appreciation for the complex and challenging nature of healthcare and the many changes that have occurred. At the heart of her delivery is a genuine love of people, and dedication to continuously improve and innovate the care delivered to them at individual and population levels.
Olive Morris - South West London & St George's Mental Health NHS Trust
Olive Morris was born in Jamaica in 1952 but moved to South London as a child. She was a political activist in the 1970’s and founded the Brixton Black Women’s Group and the Organisation of Women of African and Asian descent.

Within the Brixton Black Women’s Group, she and other members rallied to critically explore the experiences of women in the Black Panther Party. The overall purpose of the group was to raise consciousness so the women could communicate with each other and talk about their daily lives, putting this understanding into a political framework. The Brixton Black Women’s Group pushed for more transparency and unity in their community. Eventually, the group dissolved and transformed into numerous specific groups that were focused on increasing the awareness of the Black struggle.

Patricia Hughes - The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

Patricia started her nursing career on a medical ward, and after a year, worked on an oncology/ haematology ward which she loved. She worked there for 9 years and then became a haematology specialist nurseShe moved to London in 2014 to take up a Head of Nursing role in cancer at St George’s. She did this for a year then became a Matron at University College London Hospital (UCLH).

Patricia is described as a caring and compassionate leader who has an excellent vision. Throughout her career shehas helped lots of colleagues to progress. ‘Lift as you climb’ is her philosophy which she achieves by encouraging Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) nursing staff to apply for opportunities. Patricia is also passionate about the digital agenda and is an active member of the Shuri Network, which was developed for women of colour who are interested in the health tech agenda. As a member, Patricia has contributed to webinars on behalf of the network. The talks are based on equality, diversity and inclusion.

Some of Patricia’s past accomplishments include being the founding member and Chair of the UCLH BAME Network for almost 400 members. The BAME network secured £10,000 of funding from Health Education England for the development of mentoring for BAME staff. Furthermore, she wrote a successful UCLH charity bid to fund support roles for the BAME network, the roles also were able to support the LGBT and women’s network too.

Patricia joined The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust as a Divisional Nurse Director in February 2020. In this short time, Patricia has already made a significant impact as a champion for equality and inclusion.

Paul Canoville - Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Ex-professional footballer Paul Canoville knew from the age of five he was destined to be a football player. What Paul did not know when he embarked on his debut appearance as Chelsea F.C.’s first black football player, was the racist abuse he would endure from fans from his own club, that continued throughout his signing there. An incident that many believed was racially charged led Paul to be transferred to Reading F.C., but his career was blighted by injury and he was forced to retire in his prime. The callous chain of events caused a down spiral only to be stricken with Cancer.

It was Paul’s desire to overcome his own battles and help young children that came from backgrounds similar to his own that inspired him to start the Paul Canoville Foundation, which aims to engage and motivate young people who may be facing adversity to deal with the challenges they may face.

Paul also is an avid campaigner and spokesperson against racism and is also the Ambassador of the ‘Music’ Against Racism’ campaign; an organisation set up in 2020 in response to rising levels of racism. He is also qualified mental health talking therapy practitioner.

Pauline Black - The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Performer, singer, artist, band leader and songwriter, Pauline Black has dedicated four decades to the music scene. Supporting and campaigning for racial equality throughout her work, she describes herself as first and foremost, a singer.

A lifelong love of music inspired by punk and reggae artists from the 1970s led Pauline to join The Selecter and a career that has seen her travel across the world to share her passion and artistry with hundreds of thousands of fans.

The Selecter went on to become a platinum-selling band and one of the most influential within the 2 Tone music scene. After releasing their first album, Too Much Pressure, in 1980, the band went on to release 5 top 40 singles in the UK, and to this day continue to write new music and inspire new audiences. 2019 marked the 40th anniversary of 2 Tone and The Selecter.

Samantha Tross - London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust

Miss Samantha Tross is the Lead Orthopaedic Surgeon at Ealing Hospital, specialising in treating conditions of the hip and knee. She became a Consultant in 2005 and was the first female of Afro-Caribbean descent in the UK to do so. In 2018, she scored another first by becoming the first woman in Europe to perform Mako robotic hip surgery.

Miss Tross was born in Guyana, South America and came to England aged 11. She graduated from University College London in 1992. Her basic surgical training was on the Royal London rotation and higher surgical training on Guys & St. Thomas and King’s College Hospitals rotation. She subsequently undertook fellowships in Toronto, Canada and Sydney, Australia.

Apart from her clinical work Miss Tross is an Educational Supervisor, Faculty Group Leader and Director of Core Surgical Training for her hospital, overseeing the training of junior doctors in her Trust. She is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Medical Case Reports, Examiner for Imperial Medical School exams and recipient of a Black British Business STEM Award for her work promoting science and medical careers to her community. Miss Tross regularly presents at Orthopaedic conferences and is an Associate Professor in Orthopaedics for the University of the Caribbean.

Miss Tross has been profiled in an educational series by Verna Wilkins which is part of the national curriculum for schools. She has been included in the Black Powerlist of 100 most Influential Black Britons since 2009 and was named in Tatlers 100 most Influential doctors in the UK in 2013. She has been featured in the BMJ Careers in 2018 and the Metro and Stylist magazine in 2019. In the same year, she was awarded the WINTRADE Award for Women in the Public Sector and was the keynote speaker for the Mayor’s black history month event at City Hall.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor - South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was a globally acclaimed composer, referred to as the African “Mahler”. Samuel was born in Holborn in 1875 and later moved to Croydon. As well as his musical achievements he was also recognised as a civil rights leader who fought against race prejudice.

Conscious of his African descent, Taylor’s classical compositions were heavily influenced by traditional African music and this made him one of the most progressive writers of his time.

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor died of pneumonia on 1 September 1912 in Croydon, at the age of 37.

Simeon Atoza - Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust
Simeon Atoza was a Course Administrator at Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust, who sadly died last month. The following is a tribute to Simeon by one of his colleagues.

It was in January 2018 that I met Simeon Atoza. I remember it well, as I had just joined The Trust and so had he.

He was the first friend I made here as our joint inductions and meetings led to discussions outside work, where I found shared interest in Africa, football and politics. A qualified Maths teacher in his past life, Simeon’s precision showed. He would often be the first person to get into the DET offices, arriving usually between 0730 – 0740, impeccably dressed. There were some great moral lessons to be learnt from this gentle giant of the Course Administration team and we would listen in thrall, almost transported back to his native Benue state in Nigeria.

Simeon would recount stories from his childhood. Any one narrative might include tigers, sorcery, his prefecture at boarding school or all three! Such was his ability in the aural tradition, we’d look forward to him taking stage at lunchtime or during one of his famed tea breaks. The tale that abides is one I title now as “The Boy who would Bring Rain.” In this story, Simeon told of a time when there had been no rainfall and the people feared drought or worse still, impending famine. Amidst the clamour, various individuals from the community were being tasked with conducting a ritual that would bring a downpour. After several unsuccessful attempts, the elders chanced on Simeon, then a boy of only 6 or 7. Amazingly, on completing the ceremonial task, there were showers, followed by a palpable sense of relief amongst the people. My pragmatism in tow, I asked Simeon:

“Do you believe there was anything special in what you did?”

Quick as a flash and with a definite playfulness in his voice, he responded:

“Well, everyone else tried, didn’t they?”

This event cast Simeon into the limelight and cemented his position in his tribe. He held this position till his passing. Zoom offered another insight into Simeon’s world and over the last 6 months, we have seen a vast array of beautiful Nigerian attire – regal robes full of colour, usually accompanied by millinery – showing what a sharp dresser he was.

Stormzy - Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

A London-based grime MC of Ghanaian heritage, Stormzy made a swift rise in the early 2010s to become one of the U.K.’s most critically acclaimed artists. Climbing out of the underground grime scene with a series of triumphant mixtapes, singles, and freestyles, he made his breakthrough in 2017 with his platinum-certified, chart-topping debut Gang Signs & Prayer, which incorporated gospel and R&B influences. Within five years of the release of his debut EP, he was a Glastonbury festival headliner.

Stormzy is a mulit-award-winning artist, including 3 Brits, 6 MOBOs and an MTV Europe Music award.

In 2018, Stormzy launched the Cambridge scholarship ‘The Stormzy Scholarship’, which pays for tuition fees and provides a maintenance grant for up to four years of an undergraduate course for some black students. He also recently donated £500,000 to The Black Heart Foundation which helps fund educational scholarships for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, as part of his commitment to becoming a major philanthropist supporting black British causes.

In June 2020, Stormzy announced he will donate £10m to black British causes over the next 10 years: “Organisations, charities and movements that are committed to fighting racial inequality, justice reform and black empowerment within the UK.”

Sybil Phoenix OBE - Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust

Sybil Phoenix is a devoted community worker and is the first black person to receive an MBE. Growing up in British Guiana (now Guyana) in the 1920s and 1930s, Sybil found a passion for helping others at her local church, where she helped to run the youth club.

Having moved to London in 1956 with her fiancée Joe, Sybil saw no need to stop being a champion for her community and started fostering local children in her adopted home of Lewisham. She quickly became known as someone who would provide care for children who were ‘forgotten about’ by wider society, and this work attracted more and more attention. When she was offered an MBE in the 1973 Honours List, Sybil said she would only accept it if she was given something for the community she served, not just for her as an individual. Thus, her supported housing project for single homeless young women in Lewisham was born.

In 1977, the Moonshot youth club in New Cross, one of Sybil’s many projects and the first purpose-built community centre for black youth in the country, was firebombed by the National Front. Her incredible words in reaction:

“My name is Phoenix and I will build a new centre from the ashes of this club, so help me God.”

By 1981, Prince Charles was in attendance as the renovated, expanded club was reopened. Now in her nineties, she has had a spell as Civic Mayoress of Lewisham (having advised the borough on racial issues for some time), has been awarded the freedom of the City of London and the upgraded honour of OBE. The work she has done in south-east London is beyond compare and she continues her busy life in a borough that is still inspired and touched by her work every day.

Yomi Ogunsola - Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust
Yomi Ogunzola is theDivisional Manager for Community Nursing at Hounslow and Richmond Healthcare NHS Trust. Yomi’s knowledge and understanding of community nursing is second to none, as he was a community nurse himself for a number of years. Due to this understanding and knowledge, Yomi is a leader who is seen to have great integrity.

Yomi has a strong management team who value all staff equally and strive to deliver high-quality services for patients. This has been against the backdrop of a national shortage of qualified community nurses and an increase in the complexity of patients being treated in their own homes. He and his team have ensured that despite these challenges and at a time of significant change for community nursing, the service has significantly improved across a range of performance and quality standards.