Year of the Nurse: Meet Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice's new Ward Manager Jacqui

2020 has been designated as International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife by the World Health Assembly, to shine a light on the crucial contributions of nurses and midwives in achieving universal health coverage, while coinciding with the 200th anniversary of one of the founders of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.

Here, we begin our celebration of the exceptional, person-centred care and rehabilitation Sue Ryder Nurses provide to our patients, families and carers through their inspirational palliative, neurological and bereavement support, day in and day out.

Jacqui Ackroyd, who has worked as a Sue Ryder Nurse at Sue Ryder St John's Hospice for six years, including most recently as a Senior Staff Nurse, has been announced as their new Developmental Ward Manager. Here, she tells us about her journey through to her present role and how rewarding caring for others through the most difficult times of their lives is to her.

Jacqui Ackroyd, Sue Ryder St John's Hospice's new Developmental Ward Manager.

At Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice, located in Moggerhanger near Bedford, where care is provided for people living with life-limiting conditions, as well as support for their families, across Bedfordshire and parts of Cambridgeshire, Jacqui will lead a team of Sue Ryder Nurses and staff providing round-the-clock assessment and specialist care in the hospice’s 15-bed inpatient unit.

Jacqui is a familiar face to many involved with the hospice; she has worked there as a Sue Ryder Nurse for six years, most recently as a Senior Staff Nurse. Before joining Sue Ryder, Jacqui worked as a hairdresser and also in Human Resources.

She was inspired to go into nursing after working for an out-of-hours doctor’s service. After doing a health and social care access course at Bedford College, Jacqui trained to become a registered nurse at the University of Bedfordshire.

“I knew early on that palliative nursing was the area I wanted to go into”

Jacqui’s final student placement was at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice – and she hasn’t looked back since.

“I knew early on that palliative nursing was the area I wanted to go into,” said Jacqui. “I did a six month placement at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice before qualifying as a nurse and found it really rewarding. I could see that staff had the time to listen and talk to each patient and provided excellent care.

“Once I had qualified, I applied for a job as a Sue Ryder Nurse at St John’s – and was lucky enough to become the first newly qualified nurse the hospice had ever taken on. The Head of Clinical Services at the time said he felt I was born to be a palliative nurse, which was fantastic to hear.”

“An important part of what we do is easing any worries, concerns or fears people might have”

Jacqui’s role as Developmental Ward Manager will see her leading, supporting and developing the inpatient unit’s nursing team and working closely with staff from all parts of the hospice to provide a high quality of holistic care for patients.  Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice was recently rated as ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission.

Jacqui’s new challenges this year don’t just end with her new role – in October she will team up with ten other colleagues from the hospice to do an Iceland trek to raise funds.

“It is a very rewarding role; you can’t change what is going to happen, but you can make life easier and more comfortable for someone in the time they have left. An important part of what we do is easing any worries, concerns or fears people might have and also supporting their loved ones.  

“I am honoured to be a nurse and I am proud to work at St John’s Hospice”

“We also focus on going the extra mile. For example, helping people to fulfil their wishes – from big things such as helping someone to organise a wedding or be visited by their pet horse to smaller things such as making sure someone goes out into the gardens or has an afternoon tea.

“I am honoured to be a nurse and I am proud to work at Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice,” added Jacqui. “I am lucky to work with a great team who all play their part in making sure our patients have the best quality of life possible.”


In honour of the tireless, compassionate and expert support they have given to others over the past 65 years, you can join together with us to celebrate the exceptional work our #SueRyderNurses for the #YearoftheNurseandMidwife!

And if Jacqui's story has inspired you, we have further information on becoming a Sue Ryder Nurse.