A SOUTH Tyneside nurse given a royal seal of approval has added to her accolades by winning an award for her achievements.
Sharon McDowell, of South Shields, is one of a select band of medics to hold the title of the Queen’s honorary nurse.
The 54-year-old works at Sunderland Royal Hospital and also leads medical provision at events attended by senior members of the royal family, as well as being a member of the Territorial Army.
Now she has been given a fresh honour, a special recognition award at the Best of Health awards run by the Sunderland Echo, a sister title of the Gazette.
Sharon was greeted with a round of applause as she collected her prize at the awards ceremony, held at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland.
She can still remember the day she got to meet Queen Elizabeth II for the first time, in a corridor at Windsor Castle.
Being in charge of the hospital at Camp Bastion was amazing and it was a privileged position.Sharon McDowell
“It was on my first investiture. I was taken out into the chapel. I was looking down this long corridor and the Queen was walking towards me,” she recalled.
“I am thinking ‘I can’t believe it. This is the Queen!’
As well as being a Queen’s honorary nurse for the Army Reserve, she was put in charge of the military hospital at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan in 2012.
She led a team dealing with patients suffering injuries caused by gunshots and mine explosions.
It was one of three deployments she’s had as part of the 201 Field Hospital Army Reserve since joining up 26 years ago as a lieutenant, rising to become commander of the unit.
Other deployments have seen her work elsewhere in Afghanistan and in Iraq.
She said: “Being in charge of the hospital at Camp Bastion was amazing, and it was a privilege. We were providing medical care for war casualties.”
Sharon is also a matron in the trauma and orthopaedic ward at Sunderland Royal. She has been at the Kayll Road hospital for 10 years, having joined as a ward sister.