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UCLan Professor of stroke care awarded DBE

UCLan Professor of stroke care awarded DBE Banner Image

Professor Caroline Watkins has been honoured for her services to stroke and nursing care.

Professor Caroline Watkins recognised in Queen’s New Year’s Honours List

The University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Professor of Stroke Care has been awarded the DBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Professor Caroline Watkins, who is the only stroke care professor in the UK, was honoured for her services to stroke and nursing care.

Professor Watkins has been a nurse for nearly 40 years and has worked at UCLan for 15 years.  Most recently she has co-led, with her close colleague and childhood friend Denise Forshaw, the UK arm of an international study into acute stroke care called HeadPost, which is one of the largest trials of a nursing care in the world.  She is also Director of the Lancashire Clinical Trials Unit, a Fellow of the European Stroke Organisation and a member of the World Stroke Organisation.  Earlier this year, Professor Watkins was recognised with a Special Recognition Life After Stroke Award by the Stroke Association for her contribution to improving the lives of stroke survivors through better stroke care and research.

Commenting on her award Professor Watkins said: “When I got the letter I couldn’t believe it.  I thought it couldn’t be real.  To be knighted is amazing and I can’t quite get my head around it.  My husband and son are all really proud of me, and my mum will be when she finds out.  I’ve got a busy diary next year but I will of course not miss the chance to receive this honour from the Queen.”

To be knighted is amazing and I can’t quite get my head around it. I’ve got a busy diary next year but I will of course not miss the chance to receive this honour from the Queen.

In the early days of her career Professor Watkins worked as a nurse in acute medicine, intensive care, infection control and as a residential social worker with older people and people with physical disabilities before going to university in her late twenties.  It was during her studies that she began her research career, working part time in geriatric medicine as a research assistant, firstly supporting studies to try to find a treatment for people with dementia, and then research to improve pathways, treatment and care for older people and those with stroke.

Nigel Harrison, Executive Dean of the College of Health and Wellbeing at UCLan, congratulated his colleague.  He said: “When I have been at national and international health forums, conferences and committees, I have constantly heard positive reference being made to Caroline’s work and how this has been used to guide researchers and clinicians from a variety of professional backgrounds. Caroline has led local and national committees, forums and advisory groups and initiated large-scale cross-country collaborative stroke research, leading and guiding others to achieve the best research outcomes."

 

Although this wonderful honour has been bestowed on me, I could never have done half the things I have done without the wonderful people around me at work and at home.

“I have been continually inspired by Caroline’s strong work ethic, commitment and innovation in her approach to research, motivated by a genuine desire to improve the lives, care and treatment of people and families affected by stroke. She has been an advocate for involving patients and carers in research and is a true exemplary role-model for person-centred research and care and student-centred education.”

Professor Watkins added: “I am so grateful to all the amazing people I have worked with in the past, and still do work with now, who work so hard to try to make a difference to other people's lives.  That also includes the people I have met along the way who have had a stroke themselves, and yet give up their time and their precious energy to try to change things for other people for the better.  Although this wonderful honour has been bestowed on me, I could never have done half the things I have done without the wonderful people around me at work and at home.”

She will visit Buckingham Palace to receive her DBE from the Queen during 2017.

Lyndsey Boardman | 30 December 2016