Celestine Thomas-Frazer, 54, from Camberwell, took the decision to qualify as a nurse when she was in her fifties. She was in her final year at university in Essex when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, and volunteered to finish her studies early to help the NHS.
She explained: “I’d worked as a healthcare assistant for many years, and my colleagues kept encouraging me to train as a nurse. When I got to my fifties, I decided to follow my dream.”
Celestine was redeployed to King’s College Hospital, where she helped care for COVID-19 patients. She said: “Like everyone else who was redeployed to work on COVID-19 wards, I was anxious and fearful. But I knew I could make a difference to patients, and nothing would have stopped me from joining the frontline.
“I joined the team at a time when everyone was working long hours, under huge pressure. But I couldn't have been given a warmer welcome and at the end of my first shift, I left feeling like I was exactly where I needed to be.
“Love and compassion are what nursing is all about, and we would never have come through the other side of the first wave of COVID-19 without those two things. I was privileged to be able to reassure patients who were feeling scared, make them more comfortable, and help them feel well again. There’s no better feeling than knowing you have helped make someone feel better.”
Celestine is now a fully qualified nurse, and has chosen to work permanently at the Trust where she was redeployed. She said: “I thank God that I made this decision. I love nursing. My goal has always been to help people, and do something good.”