As the pandemic took its toll, nursing students stepped up to the challenge by joining the Welsh health workforce.

Matt Townsend was one of 700 Swansea University nursing students who opted to take up an extended placement in clinical practice and enter the fight against Covid-19.

Second-year Matt said “If Covid-19 has taught me anything it is that resilience is a fundamental part of our role as student nurses.

“Nobody envisaged that we would be involved in a global pandemic. While I am anxious and nervous about what lies ahead, I feel this is a fantastic learning opportunity and a chance to develop personally and professionally as a clinician.

Matthew Townsend in uniform

“I am excited for the challenges and struggles that lie ahead and will discharge my duty of care in the way that Swansea University has always taught me - with courage, commitment and compassion.”

Matt, who now lives in Pembrokeshire with his husband Pete, admitted he had had to think long and hard about whether to opt to take up the role.

“I’m not going to hide from the fact that I did feel a little anxious about what the placement would hold but I really wanted to turn the situation into a positive and use it as an opportunity to learn and develop.”

He also praised the support he received from his academic mentor in the College of Human and Health Sciences throughout his studies but in particular in the run-up to starting duties at Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest.

“Every cloud has a silver lining even if, sometimes it requires a deeper, bolder search. Everybody is facing uncertain times ahead as we sail into unchartered waters, we need to make the best of it and that is what I am trying to do.”