Mansfield-based family of NHS heroes to feature in national BBC documentary

Posted Thursday, August 10, 2023 1:42 PM

 Mansfield-based family of NHS heroes to feature in national BBC documentary

A Mansfield-based mother, father, and daughter team with over 60 years of NHS experience combined are to appear in a national BBC documentary to celebrate their dedication to the NHS.

Marking the 75th anniversary of the NHS, a brand new series of Extraordinary Portraits sees comedian, musician, and art lover Bill Bailey pair a selection of extraordinary NHS workers with some of the UK's most celebrated portrait artists.

In episode five which airs on Monday 14 August, we are introduced to the Edwards family, three of whom work at Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust’s King’s Mill Hospital.

Corporate Matron Gerrie Edwards, who works at the hospital, was originally approached to appear on the show by NHS England after an article she’d written for the Nursing Standard publication mentioned that her entire family work for the NHS.  Gerrie and her family were selected to appear in the show after a rigorous interview process and started filming in January of this year.

Gerrie, 55, started her career at King’s Mill as a Staff Nurse in 1989 and has worked as a matron for the past 36 years. She was recently honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Trust’s annual Excellence Awards, recognised for her involvement in several important projects. These include the recent globally-recognised Pathway to Excellence accreditation, leading the Shared Governance Councils which give staff a platform to have their voice heard, consulting on the Internationally Educated Nurses and Midwives (IENM) survey which was highly praised by NHS England, and mentoring aspiring black, Asian, minority and ethnic (BAME) members of staff.

Phil Bolton, Chief Nurse at Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust, said: “We are so proud of Gerrie and all she has achieved in her time at the Trust. She has made so many positive changes and impacted people’s lives for the better, so I think it is fitting that she is honoured on this programme. We are very lucky to have Gerrie and two of her daughters working for the Trust who I’m sure will go on to have successful achievements in their own careers. I’m very much looking forward to watching the episode on Monday.”

Gerrie bought her whole family to the service and Rhishana and Samara Edwards, two of her three daughters, also work at King’s Mill Hospital. Rhishana, 28, works in the People Services Team as a Deputy Divisional People Lead and Samara, 20, works as a Bank Healthcare Assistant while in her second year of studying to be a student nurse at the University of Nottingham. Brianna Edwards, 25, works as a Paediatric Intensive Care Nurse at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham and Gerrie’s husband Calvin Edwards, 62, is a Registered Mental Health Nurse at Millbrook Mental Health Unit, which is based at the King’s Mill Hospital site and run by Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The show also mentions Gerrie’s mum, Bea Haye, 81, a retired nurse who came to the UK as part of the Windrush generation. Bea was away at the time of filming but still features in the final portrait after the artist painted her from a photograph.

Bea was the reason Gerrie became a nurse in the first place and Gerrie said: “When I was growing up my mum encouraged me to be the best I can, and I have always said the same to my kids too. My motto in life is to always show up and be consistent.

“And as a lot of my work involves being a support to people, I feel this is important so that people always know they have someone they can talk to. I honestly don’t think we are any more special than anyone else who works in the NHS, and we are all incredibly humbled to be in this programme. It has been a fantastic experience, one that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

To do the family justice Bill Bailey matched them with artist Adebanji Alade, the London-born, Nigerian-raised President of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. No stranger to creating epic works of art, Adebanji is tested to the limit as he strives to capture The Edwards' enduring commitment to caring for people, which is almost as long-standing as the NHS itself.

Adebanji’s process involved visiting the different family members at their places of work, with parts of the show filmed at King’s Mill Hospital. He also attended a family meal at eldest daughter Rhishana’s house to capture a normal evening with the family. The family had complete faith in the artist and what he does after first meeting with him and were all blown away when they saw the final portrait.

Coincidentally, the episode airs on the day of eldest daughter Rhishana’s wedding and the family have rented out a cottage near the wedding venue with plans to watch it all together the following morning. Rhishana said: “It was lovely to do something together as a family and the process was interesting and fun - we did a lot of laughing! The portrait is breath-taking and we’re looking forward to being able to ‘reveal’ it after the programme. Our episode is being aired on my wedding day – so it’s literally the icing on the cake.”

The artist has since gifted the family with the painting, but they are waiting until after their episode airs to display it as they don’t want to ruin the surprise. They have a special spot set aside for the portrait and can’t wait to hang it up with pride.

You can watch the Edwards family episode of Extraordinary Portraits on Monday 14 August at 8.30 pm on BBC ONE and catch up on BBC iPlayer.


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