When nurse Zara Rogers should have been celebrating her 31st birthday she was in the middle of a gruelling 75-hour working week in the Royal Stoke’s emergency department.
She could only see her three-year-old twin boys, Clarke and Oscar, via a video call as they had gone to live with Zara’s mum to keep them as safe as possible and to free Zara up to work longer hours.
“We’ve missed so much, like Mother’s Day and birthdays but it is a small price to pay to keep everyone safe,” said Zara, who works as a junior sister.
Now she has been nominated for an Our Heroes Award, in the Heroes of the NHS category.
She said: “I know that so many people have made sacrifices and sent their children away to be safe, it’s not just me, but it’s lovely and very heartwarming to be appreciated.
“And I have to say that the hospital trust have been fantastic. We have a wellbeing team full of people from all different departments and they have made sure that we are well looked after with things such as lavender pillow packs to help us to relax and get some sleep.”
The mum-of-two lives in Stone with husband Leigh and their children. She’s worked at the Royal Stoke for seven years.
Zara said: “I’m so proud of what I do, I love it. The support we have had from the public over the past couple of months has been amazing. Not just the clap on a Thursday, but everyone staying at home. Even those who have come into hospital have respected social distancing.
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“We’ve come out of a hard winter and straight into a global pandemic so it’s been really tough.”
As if her tough work schedule isn’t enough, on her days off Zara is out and about helping her elderly relatives with shopping and delivering hot meals.
She said: “My grandparents are in their 80s so they can’t go out so I do bits of shopping for them. Leigh’s mum is also unable to go out so we are helping her too.”
Alongside her Our Heroes Awards nomination, Zara was nominated for a Healthcare Hero competition run by a travel company and is now one of three finalists who are in with a chance of winning an adventure holiday to South Africa.
She was nominated by husband Leigh, who works as an advanced clinical practitioner.
Zara said: “My husband nominated me and I had no idea. He didn’t tell me for a week! He ended up telling me all about it the week that I had to send the boys to my mums, so it was definitely a nice surprise and cheered me up a little bit.”
The twins have now been able to return home to live with Zara and Leigh, just in time for their third birthday at the beginning of this week.
Our Heroes Awards judging is carried out by an independent panel rather than a public vote, but you can vote for Zara in the Healthcare Heroes competition here. Voting closes at midnight on may 22.
Readers who want to make a nomination for the Our Heroes Awards should email firstname.lastname@example.org with Our Heroes in the subject box.