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‘Courageous and selfless’ nurse named Northamptonshire’s COVID-19 Champion

A nurse who has seen “unbelievable, upsetting and truly sad things” while working at Northampton General during the pandemic has been named Northamptonshire’s COVID Champion.

Tracey Tipler, from Earls Barton, has won the Smiths Farm Shop and Sauls of Spratton ‘So Long to Lockdown’ competition for her “courageous and selfless dedication” to her work when she was drafted into a COVID-19 ward to help out.

The 59-year-old said: “At the time the pandemic hit the UK I was working in Outpatients , but I have a background in intensive care and emergency admissions so when COVID-19 struck Northampton I was called in to help.

“Although I’d read all the stories in the papers nothing had prepared me for what I was faced with. It was like working in a science fiction movie with everyone gowned up with only their eyes visible and some very, very sick patients.

Stuart Phelan (left) was a runner up

“I can honestly say in all my years of nursing I have never seen such unbelievable, upsetting and truly sad things during my time on the COVID ward. I can’t even bear to think about it actually.”

Tracey’s work was even more admirable as she was also grieving her daughter who had recently passed away from cancer, leaving behind four children.

Friend and colleague Shelagh Donnelly nominated Tracey in the competition having seen how hard life had been for Tracey.

Shelagh said: “What Tracey has been through is simply gut wrenching, but despite her own loss she has gone above and beyond for other people. She has sat next to total strangers, holding their hand while they died without their family by their side and helped treat others, nursing them back to full recovery.

“Just like all the other NHS workers who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic, Tracey is a hero. But, despite her own grief she has been courageous and shown selfless dedication throughout. I’m so proud to call her my friend.”

Yvonne Rose was delighted with her runner up prize

As the winner of the competition Tracey was presented with a huge hamper of goodies courtesy of Smiths Farm Shop and Sauls of Spratton. Both local businesses teamed up to find the town’s COVID Champion to mark the end of the third lockdown.

Proprietor of the Farm Shop, Adrian Smith said: “For more than a year now key workers, volunteers, friends, family and neighbours have kept the county moving during the most challenging and unprecedented of times. Despite the worry and fear, there are people out there who have shown true grit and put others first.

“We were inundated with stories of bravery, sadness, love and good old fashioned neighbourly British spirit, but Tracey’s commitment touched our hearts. She was so gracious when we presented her with the hamper, but there was no doubt that she truly deserved her prize.”

Emma Price, one of the directors of Sauls of Spratton, added: “Reading the nominations for our competition has made me so very proud of the people of Northamptonshire. I had no idea our county was full of such kind, caring folk.

“Despite all the moving stories though, Tracey was the stand-out winner and we hope our recognition of her hard work and challenging few years will help her realise how truly appreciated she is.”

Yvonne Rose, Stuart Phelan and Faye Brassett were named runners up in the coronavirus competition.

The Smith family has been in business since 1958, and Sauls since 1926, so between them they have over 150 years serving the people of Northamptonshire. Proud of their heritage, the companies support like-minded local food producers, providing them with an outlet to sell their homegrown products.

Over the last year Smiths has provided a COVID safe space for their customers and dedicated key worker shopping hours every morning, and Sauls has been delivering orders free to customers who order online or by phone, a vital life-line to those shielding or unable to get out and shop.

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