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Home > News > A&E Nurse's 'unforgettable' experience at the Paralympics

A&E Nurse's 'unforgettable' experience at the Paralympics

Posted on Monday 1st October 2012
sue saxon

Sue Saxon at the London 2012 Paralympics

An Emergency Department Nurse at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven has returned from her ‘amazing’ experience as a volunteer nurse at the London 2012 Paralympics.

Sue Saxon, who has worked in the Emergency Department at West Cumberland Hospital for 16 years, saw an advert in 2010 about volunteering at the Olympic and Paralympic Games and contacted them to say she would be interested in volunteering as a nurse. This led to an interview in Newcastle and subsequently Sue was informed she had been successful and was allocated to the medical team in the wheelchair basketball arena.

Sue then had various trips down to London for orientation and training days and finally the day arrived to start on 9 September. Sue explained: “All volunteers had to find their own accommodation and I was fortunate enough to stay with the relatives of a colleague who live in London. I had never met them before but they welcomed me into their home. This set the scene for people that I met on the trains, on the underground and walking through the Olympic Park. Complete strangers would come up to my colleagues and myself to shake our hands and to say thank you for volunteering and making the Games happen which was a truly unique and humbling experience.

“Everybody I met in London was incredibly friendly. Take what you read in the newspapers and saw on television and times it by ten – volunteers who had never met before were greeting each other like long lost friends. It was an amazing atmosphere and fantastic for London.”

Sue’s motivation for volunteering came from her experience of working with disabled people when she used to be an outdoor pursuits Instructor at a centre in Keswick and also when working at Outward Bound Eskdale. Sue says she admired the enthusiasm, humour and sheer determination of the participants.

During the Paralympics, Sue was a ‘member of the field of play medical retrieval team’ which involved retrieving athletes from the field of play if they were injured and taking them to the medical centre for treatment or transfer to hospital. Sue said: “I worked with a wonderful team of people with varied backgrounds and experiences in sport and emergency care. All of my Emergency Department skills came into play and transferred very easily which is a credit to the department I work in at West Cumberland Hospital.”

Sue worked extremely long hours for the two weeks she was down there but she feels it was all worthwhile: “I had a truly unforgettable experience at the Paralympics. I was lucky to be able to watch world class wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby and to talk to some of the athletes. To be present when the Union Jack is raised for your country’s team is very emotional and I even held a gold medal.

“I would like to thank my colleagues for all the interest and support I received whilst preparing for the games and my department for giving me the time off to volunteer.”