Paisley nurse Maria Hewitt, who was part of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s (NHSGGC) fight against cCovid, has been named as on the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Honours.

Maria only qualified as a nurse three years ago, at the age of 55, after deciding on a change of career after 30 years of working in the police force.

After qualifying, she began work on Ward 5 at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in her home town but after just a few months she decided to take up a new role in international policing with the Home Office.

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Her new role had sent her to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia as one of 55 female instructors working to train the first women to be allowed to join the police in the country but, while she was there, the pandemic hit.

Maria decided to return home, where she joined NHSGGC’s nurse bank, working on COVID wards throughout the area.

Unfortunately, her husband John contracted COVID and died in hospital in June 2020. The couple had been together for 17 happy years and married in May 2016.

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Maria said: “I was in the absolute depths of grief.

“It was my lowest moment, but I felt I had to do something to help. Millions had died and every member of NHS staff was working so hard to help. I felt it was what my husband would want me to do.”

So, with the support of her own and John’s family, she went back to work and at the beginning of 2021 she became a vaccinator, helping to protect people across the NHSGGC area.

Maria now works as a dermatology staff nurse at the Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria, and she says she and all her family are “very, very proud” of the honour she has received – but she admits it was a bitter-sweet moment when she found out.

Maria and John on their wedding day in 2016
Maria and John on their wedding day in 2016

She said: “I feel it’s recognition for my own and everyone’s efforts during the pandemic, but it also brings back that terrible time.

“Overall, though, I’m so pleased at receiving this honour – and I’m delighted for everyone at NHSGGC, and for all those older students who are thinking of getting into nursing. It’s a wonderful career and I’d heartily recommend it.”

Professor Angela Wallace, Executive Nurse Director at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “I would like to express my warm congratulations to Maria for this honour.

“Despite the grief of losing her husband, she continued to play an important role in NHSGGC’s effort to protect the public from COVID-19 and I am personally grateful to her and the rest of our staff and partners for their hard work and commitment throughout the pandemic.

“Maria’s achievement is also proof that it’s never too late to take up a career in nursing, and I hope her story inspires others to make the switch into this wonderful job.”

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