Two nursing bursaries have been created in Kent to honour the memory of two local nurses who died during the coronavirus pandemic.
The awards are designed to provide additional support to selected mature students during their studies and amount to £2,500 per year for a maximum period of three years.
“These bursaries are a way for us to honour their memory and to inspire the nurses of the future to follow in their footsteps”
They have been funded by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust and rolled out in partnership with Canterbury Christ Church University.
The bursaries honour Aimee O’Rourke, who worked in the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Kent, and Adekunle Enitan, who worked as an agency nurse at the Harvey Hospital intensive care unit in Ashford.
Both nurses died in April after testing positive for Covid-19.
Those behind the move said the Aimee O’Rourke bursary, which has been awarded this year to Caroline Rogers, recognised the achievement and dedication towards nursing shown by Ms O’Rourke during her career.
Ms O’Rourke, 39 and mother to three girls, had studied as a mature student at Canterbury Christ Church University before going on to work as a nurse at the East Kent trust.
At the time of her death, colleagues had described Ms O’Rourke as a “hard-working, dedicated and hugely popular” nurse who was “determined to provide the best possible care to all of her patients and continued to come to work at a time when others were staying at home and inside”.
The Adekunle Enitan bursary has been awarded to Leonora Cinco and is in recognition of the success and dedication shown by Mr Enitan to his work as a nurse in the intensive care unit.
Mr Enitan, 55 and a father of two, was an experienced critical care nurse whose love and dedication for his job saw him using his free time to develop a special garden for seriously ill patients.
His colleagues, who knew him as Ade, had described him as an “excellent nurse and a kind and cheery soul with a dry sense of humour”.
The Aimee O’Rourke bursary was eligible for applicants over the age of 25 and for those who were a resident of East Kent and worked at the trust.
Meanwhile, the Adekunle Enitan bursary had the same requirements but for someone from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background.
“This directly influences our programmes at the university, to help us remain at the cutting edge of nursing education”
Professor Debra Towse
Applicants were asked to submit a 500-word summary indicating what contribution they believed they could make to nursing in East Kent in the future to a panel of senior nursing professionals from the university and practice.
Susan Acott, chief executive of the East Kent trust, said the organisation was delighted to fund the bursaries.
“Aimee and Adekunle were much-loved members of our trust family and I know they are still greatly missed by their many friends and colleagues at our hospitals,” she said.
“These bursaries are another way for us to honour their memory and to inspire the nurses of the future to follow in their footsteps.”
She added that she looked forward to meeting the recipients of the new bursaries and “watching them develop the skills and professionalism that made Aimee and Adekunle so valued by their colleagues and patients”.
Meanwhile, Professor Debra Towse, dean of medicine, health and social care, said the university was “immensely proud to announce the bursary awards in honour of Aimee and Adekunle”.
She added: “Our nurses are critical to the nation’s health and wellbeing and we will support them through their training and journey into what, for many, will be a lifelong passion and career.
“The demands of contemporary healthcare in this country have changed and will continue to do so.
“This directly influences our programmes at the university, to help us remain at the cutting edge of nursing education.”