Sue’s amazing anniversary abseil

10 February 2020

A 79-year-old volunteer at Evelina London, Sue, has taken her dedication to the hospital a step further by raising over £2,000 from her abseil at St Thomas’ Hospital.

A lady on top of a hospital roof in a helmet and harness, ready to abseil down the building
Sue Smith, about to abseil down St Thomas', May 2019

To make the challenge extra special, Sue’s abseil also marked 60 years since she became a nurse.

Sue’s story

Sue’s inspiration to train as a nurse came from within her own family, as her aunt qualified in nursing at Guy’s Hospital in 1940. Sue began her training in 1959.

The grandmother-of-seven worked as a health visitor for many years, seeing families all across London.

'I had such a fulfilling career and believe I was meant to be a nurse,’ says Sue. ‘Being able to support others at such a critical time in their lives is truly an honour.’

Sue now volunteers as a chaplain at Evelina London, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2019.

‘I love it. I get to be a listening ear for patients and their families and try and help in any way that I can,’ says Sue. ‘There are many things outside of clinical care which may be playing on their mind, so I help as much as I possibly can to try and create some kind of normalcy in what can be a very difficult situation.’

A special place in Sue’s heart

Since her aunt’s training, there are many other occasions that Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust have played an important part in Sue’s family life.

‘As well as my aunt training to be a nurse at Guy’s, one grandchild was born there and two of my grandsons were born at St Thomas’,’ says Sue. ‘My father was also treated at St Thomas’ before he sadly passed away.
‘Throughout my life the Trust has been there for my family, so I feel compelled to give something back.’

Sue’s vital role at Evelina London

The gratitude is wholeheartedly returned, as Sue’s selfless commitment to Evelina London as a volunteer is appreciated daily.

‘Sue has so many qualities that make her special and she is valued so much at the hospital,’ says Susan Pruden, senior play specialist. ‘As a former nurse, she is empathetic and approachable and always has time for other people. Patients and families all look forward to speaking with her and spending time with her.

‘Sue always thinks of other people before she thinks of herself and for her to do this to raise money for Evelina London is such an amazing thing. We’re extremely lucky to have her as part of the team.’

St Thomas’ Abseil in a special year for nurses and midwives

The popular St Thomas’ Abseil event takes place every year, when hundreds of people descend 160ft down the side of the hospital building to raise money for Guy’s, St Thomas’ and Evelina London. Brave challengers taking part experience the adrenaline rush of a lifetime, along with breathtaking views across the River Thames of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and The London Eye.

The 2020 event takes place on Friday 5 June and holds a special significance this year, as International Year of the Nurse and Midwife is being celebrated. Midwives and nurses, like Sue and hundreds of others, will be recognised for their unwavering hard work and commitment to patients.

Sue raised an incredible £2,010 for Evelina London when she took on the abseil. She threw herself into the challenge, and was certainly not put off at all by the fact that she’s approaching 80 years old.

‘I love growing older. It’s a great gift,’ she says. ‘The abseil was an opportunity for me to face my fears and do something I never thought I could do.’

Registration to take part is now open so if you want to challenge yourself like Sue did, join our team of amazing abseilers by signing up today!