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Two Ayrshire Nurses Receive Prestigious Queen’s Nurse Award 

A practice nurse and a community nurse working in homeless services have both been awarded the prestigious title of Queen’s Nurse.  

Elaine and Gayle

Elaine Wilson is based with a practice located across three sites in Patna, Coylton and Dalrymple while Gayle Ridge works within the South Ayrshire Community Mental Health Team with any individual experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

They were selected earlier this year to take part in a nine-month development programme run by the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS).  

Both community nurses were nominated by their employers for providing high quality, compassionate care to people in their communities. 

After completing the programme successfully, they were awarded the historic Queen’s Nurse title along with 18 other community nurses at a ceremony in Edinburgh on Thursday. 


It marks only the third time the honour has been made in Scotland in almost 50 years following the reintroduction of the title in 2017.   

Elaine has been with at Riverside Medical Practice since she qualified in 2015, firstly as a treatment room nurse then as practice nurse.

Elaine Wilson

She said: “I’ve started the role with a positive vision of how I can make a real difference to the people I meet.

“Being a Queen’s Nurse has given me the confidence to grow in my role. It has allowed me to see the difference that committed nurses can make.

“A vital part of my role is health promotion and education and there is so much potential for change in a community like ours. I want to be a role model for others, constantly exploring new ways of working together to improve people’s lives.

“I am passionate about the potential that general practice nurses have to support people to live well. We are in the heart of our communities and have a unique group of skills and knowledge that can help improve health and wellbeing.”

Gayle has been in her post as Health and Homeless Charge Nurse in South Ayrshire for nine years.

Gayle Ridge

She said: “Working in homeless and inclusion health is a real privilege, and I am very fortunate to work in a health board that supports and addresses the vulnerabilities that people experience.

“Homelessness is never only about not having a home but is part of a much bigger story of complex health and social needs. 

“The work I do enables equitable access to services across all sectors of health and wellbeing and that means providing care where it is needed. 

“I’m hopeful of being able to really make a difference by becoming a Queen’s Nurse. While it is a huge privilege for me, the valuable outcome is not about me, it is about raising awareness of the diverse roles of community nurses but more importantly of the people who find themselves homeless; a population that are underrepresented and vulnerable.”

Other community nurses in the group include a Macmillan nurse, a dementia specialist nurse and care home nurses as well as district nurses, health visitors, school nurses and practice nurses.   

They were all presented with their title by author Christie Watson at the ceremony at Edinburgh’s Waldorf Astoria hotel.   

Professor Hazel Borland, NHS Ayrshire & Arran Nurse Director, commented: “I am absolutely delighted that two of our nurses have received this recognition and prestigious award.

“I would like to extend my congratulations on behalf of NHS Ayrshire & Arran to Elaine and Gayle.

“I would also like to thank them for their years of dedication and caring to their patients and communities. They truly embody our organisation’s values of safe, caring and respectful and are a real example to us all.”  


In 2019 the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland is celebrating its 130th anniversary. The original Queen’s Nurses provided care and health education to people in their own homes and became well respected figures within their community.   

Following the introduction of a national certificate for district nursing, QNIS ceased training, awarding the QN title for the final time in 1969.   

However, the decision was made to reintroduce Queen’s Nurses to Scotland in 2017, with 20 community nurses chosen to take part in a development programme which would see them become the first modern Queen’s Nurses.   

The process involves employers nominating a community-based nurse who will go forward for interview following a successful written application. 

The programme consists of a week-long residential workshop followed by two further workshops and coaching sessions in between. Each nurse selects an issue for development which will have a significant impact on those they care for, so that the learning during the nine months is applied in practice.    

Clare Cable, QNIS Chief Executive and Nurse Director, said: “Three years on from reintroducing the Queen’s Nurse title to Scotland, we now have 61 Queen’s Nurses working in communities across the country.  

“They are extraordinary role models for nursing in the community and show the enormous contribution which nurses make to the health of Scotland’s people.  

“This year’s Queen’s Nurses demonstrate the diversity of community nursing roles, with the welcome addition of Queen’s Nurses working in learning disabilities, and another working in sexual health for the first time.   

“They are all expert community nurses - change makers across the country.”


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