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Health visitor Kelly completes cancer treatment to be crowned star student

A health visitor who trained while receiving treatment for breast cancer and raising her family has won a prestigious Queen’s Nursing Institute Outstanding Achievement award.

Kelly Howell was awarded the QNI’s Dora Roylance Memorial Prize 2020 for Outstanding Achievement as a Health Visiting Student, after undergoing surgery, working through COVID-19 restrictions and being mum to her four children, aged between ten and 18.


Kelly was nominated for the award by University of South Wales senior lecturer and course lead Michelle Thomas, who said: “Kelly made an impression on the course team from the first meeting at interview. She is an excellent student who had made good progress with the SCPHN HV studies before becoming unwell with breast cancer. Despite this, Kelly worked hard in placement and towards theoretical assessments well into her treatment cycles, and suspended studies just before her surgery.


“Throughout her suspension, Kelly and I kept in regular contact and she has always displayed a positive outlook. As a young mother of four children and a wife, Kelly has coped extremely well with the demands of the course, her illness, treatment and surgery, and her return to the course for consolidated practice.”


With support from her clinical practice teacher Debbie Lewis, Kelly resumed her studies, managing a small caseload while completing her treatment at Velindre Cancer Centre. Despite the restrictions introduced due to COVID-19, Kelly successfully completed consolidated practice and qualified as a health visitor in April, practising at Carnegie Clinic, Trealaw.


Mrs Thomas added: “I am nominating Kelly because she lights up any room, she has a can-do attitude, is supportive of others and has coped superbly with all of the obstacles that have been put in her way throughout her studies.”


Kelly said: “I am thoroughly enjoying my new role as a health visitor, which is ever-changing in these current times. I have been lucky enough to have experienced fantastic support throughout my studies from Michelle, Debbie and friends and colleagues along the way.


“Consequently, this level of support has been continued into my role as a qualified health visitor within the team and the area in which I work. When you go through challenging times personally, this support and encouragement makes you feel valued; now it is my turn to give something back and hopefully contribute greatly to my role and team, supporting families as much as we can in these tough times.”


Kelly received the award at an online ceremony with a range of guest speakers. “The ceremony was fantastic, and it was lovely to see the variety of awards being given,” she added.