Past pupil Ella volunteers to join NHS frontline

A FORMER Ripon Grammar School pupil in her final year of university has volunteered to work with the NHS nursing team helping to battle the Covid-19 pandemic in Harrogate as the town opens its Nightingale hospital.

Sheffield Hallam University nursing student Ella Borchard is one of a number of former RGS students working on the NHS frontline during the global health crisis.

Ella undertook training sessions in the latest Covid-19 guidance, oxygen therapy, mental wellbeing and guidance on the necessary personal protection equipment, delivered by academics at her university, for her new role as an aspirant nurse.

The 21-year-old, from Ripon, said: “I came into nursing because I wanted to care for and look after people. I would have felt unsettled if I hadn’t volunteered, because I feel I should be there helping in whatever way I can.”

She added: “I’ve volunteered to help save people’s lives and I would urge others to help save lives too by staying at home to support me and my colleagues in the NHS.”

Ella will be working with Covid-19 patients on the Wensleydale ward at Harrogate District Hospital: “I will be working under the supervision of the ward staff, helping provide personal care for patients.”

She explained how her Covid-19 training in Sheffield included simulations with mannequins: “We prepared for situations we might find ourselves in and discussed how to look after ourselves during this difficult time.”

Ella also attended online lectures and training sessions about ‘end of life’ and Covid-19 policies and procedures: “The training gives us some of the skills and information we need to tackle something like this. But I have spent nearly three years preparing for my future career as a nurse and working during this pandemic is only part of what I have trained to do.”

Ella, who studied biology, chemistry and Spanish at A-level, confessed she feels nervous about the task ahead: “Every day will bring so many new issues to overcome, but it will give me lots of experience of nursing in an unusual situation while still having a defined support network. I do feel very excited to be a part of history.”

Her ambition is to work in A&E and, once qualified, her first post will be on the medical admissions unit at Harrogate Hospital: “I have always tried to be open-minded about where my career could take me as sometimes things happen that are unavoidable and change the path you are on.

“Further down the line, I would like to take my master’s degree in advanced nursing so that I can manage patients’ complete clinical care from diagnosis to care planning and discharge.”

Looking back, she feels many of the extra-curricular activities, including House drama and musicals, that she was involved with at school have given her the skills and experience to help sustain her through difficult times.

“In addition, my World Challenge trip to Malaysia and Borneo definitely helped me develop confidence and general life skills.”

Ella is also an enthusiastic supporter of Ripon Youth Theatre and member of Ripon Amateur Operatic Society: “Performing has been a constant in my life and is one of my ways to relax, so it is something I will strive to continue around chaotic shifts after the pandemic.”

Ella’s mother Jo - a teacher and also an RGS past pupil, as is Ella's father - said she was very proud of Ella's dedication and commitment to her career: “Ella has always been diligent and strives to do her best in everything she does. She is a wonderful, caring daughter, with lots of energy, drive, focus and attention to detail.

"To put her skills into professional practice at the peak of a world pandemic is commendable. Having just turned 21, she is ready to face the world, but she will always be my little girl!" 

Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Sheffield Hallam University Vice-Chancellor, added: “I am immensely proud of our final year healthcare students stepping up to join the NHS during this extraordinary crisis. The support they will be able to provide to key workers on the frontline will be invaluable.”

Ella in costume for a Ripon Amateur Operatic Society performance