Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu

Elizabeth Anionwu@NHS from 02/07/18 to 03/07/18

Twitter: @EAnionwu

Job title: Emeritus Professor of Nursing + Patron: Sickle Cell Society

Place of work: University of West London / Sickle Cell Society

I have reached the age of 71 in the same week that we are all celebrating the 70th anniversary of our fantastic National Health Service! Born in Birmingham, I spent the first 9 years of my life in a Catholic Children’s Home. It was at this convent that I set my heart on becoming a nurse due to the wonderful way a nursing nun cared for my extremely painful, itchy eczema.

My first job at the age of 16 was as a school nurse assistant in Wolverhampton.  It prepared me well for the 3-year course I undertook from 1965 at Paddington General Hospital to qualify as a State Registered Nurse.

A community nurse at heart, I was thrilled that my future career included working in Brent as a health visitor, Community Nurse Tutor and then as the first ever Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia Nurse Specialist in the UK. My PhD thesis focused on health promotion needs as identified by parents of children affected by sickle cell disease.

Later on I became a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Child Health where I established a course entitled ‘Genetic Counselling for the Community:  A multi-ethnic perspective’.  Then I spent 10 years at the University of West London (UWL) as a Professor of Nursing with posts including Dean of the School of Adult Nursing and Head of the Mary Seacole Centre for Nursing Practice. I was Vice-Chairperson of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal and then made a Life Patron of the Mary Seacole Trust.

Now retired, I am proud to be a grandmother as well as an Emeritus Professor of Nursing at UWL, a Patron of the Sickle Cell Society and an Honorary Advisor to the Chief Nursing Officer for England’s Black & Minority Strategic Advisory Group!  I have also found time to write my memoirs ‘Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union’ and it has been an absolute delight to be invited to speak about my life to NHS staff throughout the country.

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