Following in mum's Evelina London footsteps

Posted on Thursday 8th March 2018
Mother and daughter, Ellen and Penhaligan Samuel.

Mother and daughter Ellen and Penhaligan Samuel.

This Mother’s Day for the first time ever, children’s nephrology Matron, Ellen Samuel, will share her place of work with 21 year old daughter, Penhaligan.

When Ellen Samuel starting working for Evelina London 32 years ago she never imagined that she would end up working alongside her own daughter. Ellen first started at Evelina London in 1986, when children’s services were based at Guy’s Hospital. After taking a job as a night sister, Ellen progressed through nursing roles to become a Matron.

Since 2016, Ellen has been the Matron for Beach Ward at Evelina London Children’s Hospital. She is responsible for nursing care for 31 beds and outpatient appointments for children with kidney disease and bladder issues. Ellen and the team on Beach Ward care for children and families from diagnosis through to treatment which often results in a kidney transplant.

Ellen has seen lots of changes over the years, including the building of the brand new hospital on the site of St Thomas’, now home to Evelina London children’s services. She explains:

“I’ve been here for some incredible milestones; moving to a new building, the first children’s hospital to be built in London for 100 years, medical breakthroughs like being able to offer children the opportunity to have an organ from a parent with an incompatible blood group and having the honour of two royal visits to my ward. But one thing I never thought I’d experience is working with one of my own children.

“Penhaligan is the youngest of my three children and I’ve always included all of them in my working life as much as I can. I would bring them to visit the hospital as children and encourage them to support with fundraising. I was very surprised but am extremely proud that Penhaligan has chosen a career in the NHS, if she wasn’t going to be a nurse, this is the next best thing.”

Penhaligan Samuel started work at Evelina London in 2017 and is now a patient flow coordinator within the bed management team. She remembers coming to work with her mum when she was a child.

“I remember visiting Dicken’s Ward at Guy’s Hospital where mum was a nurse when I was nine years old. They had a huge rocking horse and I remember chatting to a patient the same age as me. Although I probably didn’t realise it, I think experiencing mum’s work all those years ago did influence me. When I was small I remember saying that I wanted to be a nurse. I actually tried some nursing work experience in later years but quickly realised I wasn’t cut out for the reality of a medical emergency!” says Penhaligan.

As a patient flow coordinator, Penhaligan works as the link between the team booking appointments and the clinical staff on the wards.

“I make sure we have space for new patients for planned appointments, it’s a bit like a giant jigsaw puzzle that’s constantly changing but I enjoy the challenge of organising it all.”

Ellen and Penhaligan live together in Croydon and travel to work together. Although they have very different career paths, they do share meetings at work as Penhaligan checks on bed availability on the wards each day.

Penhaligan describes how working at Evelina London has changed her viewpoint of her mum:

“I’ve seen my mum in a new light; I really didn’t appreciate how hard she works and why. Working at the hospital at Christmas, for example, I saw how much extra effort is put into making families feel special. The people that know my mum have been quick to tell me how amazing she is, it’s given me a whole new respect for her.”

Ellen too has seen the benefit of sharing a workplace with Penhaligan. She says:

“It’s been really interesting to see things through new eyes. I have my 32 years of experience but Penhaligan has a new perspective which has been refreshing. We’re always working to make things better for the families we care for at Evelina London so to have Penhaligan sharing that goal is wonderful. I describe myself as an Evelina stick of rock, if you cut me open I’d have Evelina London running throughout me. To be able to share something I am so passionate about with one of my children is really very special.”