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NZ Red Cross nurses awarded highest international honour

17 May 2017

New Zealand Red Cross nurses awarded highest international honour

Three New Zealand nurses have been awarded the highest international nursing distinction, the Florence Nightingale Medal, for their work in war zones and during the Ebola outbreak.

Red Cross nurses Barbara Turnbull, of Dunedin, Gail Corbett, of Levin, and Guru Dev Singh, of Wellington, have been named as recipients of the medal for 2017.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) awards the Florence Nightingale Medal to honour exceptional courage and devotion to the victims of armed conflict or natural disaster.

All three nurses have spent several years working in the world’s most complex and critical humanitarian crises.

Barbara Turnbull of Dunedin, currently working in Afghanistan, has been a nurse for more than three decades and has been deployed to North Korea, Pakistan and Democratic Republic of Congo with Red Cross. Her international work has included everything from training local staff to treating people wounded by suicide bomb attacks.

Gail Corbett of Levin, has worked in Somalia, Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan, where she established teaching programmes and worked to improve patient care. She has been praised for her “incredibly gutsy and difficult” work in Gaza. Before working internationally for Red Cross, she specialised as a neonatal nurse.

Guru Dev Singh of Wellington, spent 18 months working in West Africa during the height of the 2014-2015 Ebola response. She has also worked in Gaza and Iraq with Red Cross. Before working overseas, she used her skills to help during New Zealand emergencies as a member of Red Cross’ emergency response team, and has also worked in rural Australia.

New Zealand Red Cross acting Secretary General Alice Montague says the three nurses are thoroughly deserving recipients of the Florence Nightingale Medal.

“Barbara, Guru and Gail have shown extraordinary courage through their work, inspiring all of us here at New Zealand Red Cross. We’re proud to help them recognise their humanitarian efforts by celebrating this award.”

Only 31 New Zealanders have been awarded the medal, which also recognises exemplary services and pioneering spirit in the areas of public health and nursing education, in its 104 year history.

The three will be officially presented with the Florence Nightingale Medal at an investiture ceremony later this year.


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