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Southampton undergraduate has finished as runner-up in a national competition to find the best student nurses and midwives in the country

Published: 25 February 2014

The exceptional leadership skills of Alex Collyer, aged 26, have been recognised in the 2014 Scholarship Awards run by Cavell Nurses’ Trust. Alex moved into his combined adult and child nursing course at the University of Southampton following a four-year stint with the ambulance service. After experiencing child nursing, he has discovered a flair for working with families and children of all ages, including babies in the neo-natal unit.

"It's a brilliant career because there are so many variations and so many opportunities in nursing."

Alex, from Newbury, added: "Entering the Edith Cavell Leadership Award has helped me focus on leadership, what it means and how I might contribute to that in the future."

Some 29 student nurses and midwives from across the country competed for the honours in five different categories covering outstanding student nurse and midwife, leadership, community and academic achievement.

Winners receive a travel scholarship, worth up to £2,000, for further study either in the UK or overseas and runners-up will receive a laptop and certificate.

The rigorous selection process included in-depth interviews of the candidates by a judging panel comprising some of the foremost figures in nursing, including Professor Lesley Page, President of the Royal College of Midwives.

Professor Page said: "Candidates for the awards were without exception, dedicated, innovative and energetic they shone with excellence.  Selecting the recipients was extremely difficult given the very high standard and commitment of applications.  It gives us cause to be optimistic about the future of nursing and midwifery. The awards are an important recognition and will help take the recipients forward to make an even greater contribution to health care."

The 14 award winners will be presented with their prizes and certificates by HRH The Princess Royal at a special ceremony at London's Fishmonger's Hall on 19th March. 

Other special guests will include Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England, Dr Christian Jessen, presenter of BAFTA award winning television series 'Embarrassing Bodies', Ann Gloag, co-founder of the international transport company Stagecoach, Professor Page and Cavell Nurses' Trust Patron Loyd Grossman, noted broadcaster and heritage campaigner.

This is the third year for the scholarships, which are promoted through universities, with the aim of providing exceptional student nurses and midwives opportunities to further develop their professional practice and personal qualities.

Cavell Nurses' Trust Chief Executive Kate Tompkins said: "It was most inspiring to hear the next generation of nurses and midwives talk with such passion and conviction about their chosen fields.

"The scholarships continue to go from strength to strength and Cavell Nurses' Trust is proud to recognise and reward the commitment and hard work of students through these highly-regarded awards."

The Princess Royal is President of the Trust's Centenary Appeal which aims to raise £3 million by next year and double the number of people it supports.

The charity, which every year helps hundreds of nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants who have fallen on hard times through ill health, disability, family breakdown or domestic abuse, is promoting a series of fundraising events for the Centenary Appeal. For further information on these and information about the work of Cavell Nurses' Trust, please visit or call 01527 595999.

Notes for editors

Cavell Nurses' Trust is a registered charity that supports the UK's 650,000 student, working and retired nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants who need financial help and support following illness, injury and other difficulties.

The Trust was established in 1917 in memory of Edith Cavell who died in occupied Belgium in 1915. It has provided financial support worth more than £2.5 million over the last five years to thousands of working and retired nurses, health care assistants and student nurses in need.

The annual Scholarship Awards aim to recognise exceptional student nurses and midwives in the UK. They are open to students currently studying nursing or midwifery on undergraduate/postgraduate or diploma courses at universities in the UK. 

The Trust has launched a Centenary Appeal with the aim of raising £3 million by October 2015 to double the number of beneficiaries it supports.

The Princess Royal is President of the Centenary appeal. For further information please visit

Guests' biographical details:

Jane Cummings - Jane was appointed as the Chief Nurse for the North of England SHA Cluster in October 2011. Jane was the national lead for Energise for Excellence programme, which provides a coherent framework to mobilise nursing staff to improve quality and reduce costs.  She is the national nursing lead for the Clinical Leader's Network and a member of the national steering group.  Jane started full time as the Chief Nursing Officer for England in June 2012 and published "Compassion in Practice", the national vision and strategy for nurses, midwives and care staff in December 2012.

Dr Christian Jessen - presenter of BAFTA award winning television series 'Embarrassing Bodies', the critically acclaimed 'Supersize V Superskinny' and multi award winning ‘Embarrassing Bodies: Live From the Clinic'. He has also presented ‘Stand Up to Cancer' - a four hour live C4 fundraiser on behalf of Cancer Research, and ‘Drugs Live' which he co-presented with Jon Snow.  His passion is to simplify, demystify, de-stigmatize and explain to the public the often complicated and inaccessible world of medicine.

Ann Gloag - co-founder of the international transport company Stagecoach, she is a renowned supporter of health projects through her Balcraig and Gloag Foundations and has invested heavily in many projects across Africa; for example, she runs and funds an orphanage and schools Kenya. Ann also serves on the international and UK boards of Mercy Ships - a hospital ship charity providing free medical and humanitarian aid to the people of West Africa.  In 1999 she bought the charity a former Danish rail ferry and spearheaded its conversion into the world's largest charity hospital ship - the Africa Mercy.

Professor Lesley Page, President of the Royal College of Midwives - across her career, Lesley has managed to integrate policy leadership, research and development and being a practising midwife into her widely lauded career. She helped establish the first legally recognised midwifery service in the health service in British Columbia in the 1980s, served on three national committees in the UK; Lesley wrote the influential book The new midwifery: science and sensitivity in practice, and has worked and lectured in 13 countries. She was made honorary fellow of the RCM in 2007 in recognition of her considerable contribution to the profession, and was elected to her current role as RCM president in 2012.

Loyd Grossman - Mr Grossman's lifelong interest in history, the arts and heritage has involved him in a number of organisations. He is a former Commissioner of the Museums and Galleries Commission, and a former Commissioner of English Heritage, where he was Chairman of the Museums Advisory Committee and the ‘Blue Plaques' Panel. In 2007 Loyd was appointed Chairman of The Churches Conservation Trust, and in 2009 he was appointed Chairman of the Heritage Alliance which represents some 90 of the non-governmental and voluntary organisations working in the heritage sector. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. Loyd was awarded a Doctor of Letters degree in 2007 by the University of Chester in recognition of his heritage work. In January 2011 the University of Lincoln awarded him an honorary Doctor of Arts degree in recognition of his contribution to the cultural heritage sector.

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