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Nurse Jenny finds the hero inside herself

RECOGNISED: Jenny Simpson, aka Empress Zauditu

SHE’S BEEN hailed as the West Midlands’ answer to famous Jamaican-born nurse Mary Seacole – and the hard work of community champion Jenny Simpson has just been recognised with an award voted for by the community she serves.

Surgical nurse practitioner Jenny was caught by surprise when she was called on stage at the Hush Hush Secret Awards held recently in Birmingham to be told that she was one of the winners of the prestigious event’s coveted award.

But those who had voted for Jenny, also known as Empress Zauditu Ishuah, were in no doubt that it was more than fully deserved as a reflection of the work she is doing helping the poor and sick in both Africa and Jamaica.

Deeply modest Jenny tries to shun the limelight but this time she didn’t succeed as she was presented with her honour by Dr Mark Walcott, who dubbed her “his Mary Seacole”.

For Jenny, it’s another milestone in her incredible journey to continue supporting the most vulnerable people across the world who are often neglected by governments and who struggle to find the most basic health care.

It all began more than a decade ago when Jenny witnessed something which changed the course of her life.

She witnessed the death of a close friend in Shashamane, Ethiopia, who had just given birth to her fourth child.

Jenny told The Voice: “My beloved friend Yainka went into respiratory arrest following the birth. I will never forget leaving hospital with her baby and having to tell her other three children that their mother was dead.

“With proper equipment there was no reason for Yainka to die, but the whole thing affected me greatly and I wanted to do something about it.”

Back home in Birmingham, Jenny launched her charity Sick Be Nourished (SBN), which takes its name from the Ethiopian creed.

Since then she has masterminded several major projects. One of her most successful has been her ‘clinic in a box’ scheme. Hospitals and clinics across the West Midlands and the UK have donated equipment to fill boxes with clinical essentials such as blood pressure monitors, syringes, stethoscopes, disposable gloves and wipes. They are vital when impromptu clinics are set up in remote areas.

“The scheme has gone really well and we have just received an order for some boxes from the Ugandan Government,” added Jenny, who also received the Nanny of the Maroons local hero award four years ago from the Association of Jamaican Nationals (Birmingham) UK.

“I’m pleased in the way that the charity seems to be getting bigger and carrying more influence.

“We seem to be dealing more with the governments and diplomats of different countries rather than just the community organisations.

“But I am mindful of the enormous support UK NHS clinics have given me and I always want to make sure they are kept informed of how their equipment is helping others across the globe.”

Jenny is also making strides in Malawi after making contact with a leading politician in the Zomba region in a bid to launch small scale village enterprises which could change the course of young girls’ lives.

She explained: “In 2016 it is tragic that the education of teenage girls is suffering due to a lack of basic sanitary facilities.

“Their parents cannot afford to buy them proper sanitary wear during their periods, so many simply stay away, missing huge chunks of their education.

“I am planning to go over and carry out a feasibility study into setting up village enterprises where reusable sanitary wear can be manufactured with the help of sewing machines and a business plan.”

Jenny also visited Jamaica, the country of her parents’ birth, earlier this year and gave several presentations across the island.

She held talks with government ministers and met Prime Minister Andrew Holness to discuss the country’s medical marijuana project.

Jenny is a pioneer within the work she has carried out within the NHS over the past 25 years.

Her professional life began as a scrub nurse in operating theatres, but she went on to pioneer the role of advanced surgical care practitioner within Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.

With her own operating theatre list, she provides surgical support by assisting in theatres and carrying out minor surgical procedures such as hernias and endoscopies.

Mother-of-five Jenny, who has a disabled daughter, has offices in Birmingham city centre where she holds workshops giving guidance to health practitioners.

“People ask my how I manage to fit everything in,” smiled Jenny. “My ultimate aim would be to do what I am doing now but within the charity itself, so I could use my skills where they are needed most.”

Her charity is also helped by a music project and she has previously won support from singers Jimmy Cliff, Ken Boothe and celebrity chef and singer Levi Roots.

For more details visit: www.sickbenourished.com

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