Matt Townsend, an Adult Nursing student from Swansea University, has won the Most Inspirational Student of the Year award in this year’s Student Nursing Times Awards.
The awards, which were held virtually on Tuesday 27 October, celebrate and support the achievements of the student nursing community across the UK.
Thirty-six-year-old Matt from Milford Haven volunteered earlier in the year to work on the NHS frontline during the Covid-19 crisis. Based at Withybush Hospital in west Wales, Matt felt passionately about supporting patients, not only medically, but by being a listening ear for them as they were apart from their loved ones during the crisis.
Matt kept a reflective journal, documenting his experiences throughout working on the frontline. His efforts and experiences have allowed Matt to prepare for his placements during the second wave of the pandemic for this academic year and have also helped give fellow nursing students an insight into adult nursing.
Matt dedicated his award to Brian Mfula, a much-respected mental health nursing lecturer at Swansea University, who died from Covid-19 in April.
On receiving his award, Matt said: "I feel incredibly honoured to have been recognised in this category and especially this year, a year that has been a particularly challenging one for us all. I would like to extend a personal thanks to my academic mentor, Elaine Jones, for always encouraging me to be the best I can be. The award is a culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication. I'd also like to thank my husband Pete for his love and support. Completing the degree alongside other research and publication commitments sometimes makes for a stressed Matt, so thank you, Pete, for always supporting me. I dedicate my award to Brian Mfula – a brave, inspirational and kind man.”
Sam Richards, a 45-year-old Mental Health Nursing student from Swansea, was also shortlisted alongside Matt in the Most Inspirational Student of the Year category. His shortlisting came in recognition of his commitment to helping students develop their own leadership qualities and for helping to establish a Student Leadership Academy within Swansea University.
Swansea University’s work in establishing the Student Leadership Academy saw the university named runner-up in the Best Student Experience category.
Professor Jayne Cutter, head of department of Nursing at Swansea University, said: “I am incredibly proud of both Matt and Sam, their efforts since joining Swansea University have been second to none and they are a credit to the university and the nursing profession.
“Matt’s work on the frontline has showed his passion and dedication to the nursing profession, and it is people like Matt who really shine a light on the NHS. The care and compassion he provides his patients can make such a huge difference to their lives at this very uncertain time and circumstance we find ourselves in during Covid-19.”