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Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a talented school nursing professional who was killed in a road accident while on her way to work.
Colleagues from the school nursing team at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust spoke of their deep sorrow at the loss of Viki Kavanagh, described by managers as a “rising star” in her profession.
“She got lots of praise and was one of these rising stars”
Ms Kavanagh qualified as a children’s nurse in January 2019 and joined the school nursing team at Walsall as a staff nurse in October of that year.
While she had only been working with the team for 10 months, Ms Kavanagh excelled in her work and it was clear she was ideally suited to the role, said service lead Sallyann Sutton.
“She was just so quick to pick things up and so good with kids. She got lots of praise and was one of these rising stars,” she told Nursing Times.
Ms Sutton said she regularly received emails from other professionals commending the high standard of Ms Kavanagh’s work and it had been a pleasure watching her grow in confidence and develop as a newly qualified nurse.
“Viki had a great deal of empathy and compassion and said the reason she’d come into nursing was to give something back,” said Ms Sutton.
“She always had time to listen to the children and young people – really listen in a meaningful way,” she added.
She recalled how Ms Kavanagh used her skills to deal with a distressing communication via the team’s text message service from a young person who was feeling suicidal.
“She got that young person to talk over text and got them to a place where they would accept help and they felt safe,” she said.
“That is difficult enough to do face to face so doing a thing like over a text conversation when you are relatively new into the service and a newly-qualified nurse really takes some skill,” she added.
She said Ms Kavanagh had also demonstrated a particular aptitude for working with the most vulnerable children including when doing reviews and assessments of children in care.
“You could tell by the detail on the assessments how much time she had spent really listening and really bringing through that voice of the child in the paperwork,” she said.
She said it was clear Ms Kavanagh loved her job and was keen to go on and gain the specialist qualification in school nursing.
“Viki was always smiling and always there to offer support if you’d had a bad day”
“She had other jobs before she started nursing but had only been saying over the last two or three weeks at work how this was the first place she’d felt really welcome and part of a team,” said Ms Sutton.
“She said she could never see herself leaving school nursing,” she added.
Ms Sutton said Ms Kavanagh would be greatly missed by her colleagues for her personal qualities including a smile that could “brighten up a room” and her “wicked sense of humour”.
She explained the team had shared many funny moments and much laughter with Ms Kavanagh during down time at the clinic.
“All the desks face the wall. We’d be having a laugh or joke about something and you’d see her shoulders chuckling away and then she’d turn around blushing – we will all miss moments like that,” she said.
“Viki was always smiling and always there to offer support if you’d had a bad day,” she added.
Ms Kavanagh leaves behind her partner and a grown-up son and daughter. “Our thoughts are with her family,” said Ms Sutton.
The loss of Ms Kavanagh is a further blow for the team coming not long after the death of professional lead for health visiting Judith Nembhard, who died in April this year after a long illness.
Staff were also mourning the recent of death the trust’s occupational health clinical psychologist Dr Rick Norris – who had provided emotional support to some of the team – and was killed in a crash while out cycling.
“This has all happened in quite a short time and it is difficult to work through and process with the pandemic going on. It has been really tough,” said Ms Sutton.