Gwent NHS colleagues celebrate post-pandemic study achievements at special event

ABUHB apprentices were joined by Jonathan Davies MBE at a celebration of their commitment and dedication to their studies throughout Covid-19

The commitment of colleagues at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB) in pushing through their studies in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic has been celebrated at a special event hosted by former Welsh rugby international Jonathan Davies MBE.

Around 35 staff from The Grange, Nevill Hall, Royal Gwent and St Cadoc’s Hospitals were joined by rugby legend Jonathan Davies, who is a Skills Ambassador for ACT, to recognise their work in achieving various Clinical Healthcare and Leadership Management qualifications.

Those attending the event to mark their achievements in gaining Apprenticeships ranging from Levels 2 – 5 won particular praise for their dedication to continuing their studies despite having to work through, and being on the front line of, the Covid-19 pandemic.

Michelle Jones, from Caerphilly, was among those present, having overcome the urge to abandon her pursuit of her studies when she was redeployed from her post as a theatre worker at Ystrad Ysbyty Fawr to work on ICU at the Royal Gwent in Newport when Covid-19 hit.

Despite the challenges she and her colleagues were facing, Michelle went on to complete her Level 5 ILM Management qualification and has been instrumental in rebuilding the provision of theatre services at Ystrad Fawr after they were all-but decimated during the pandemic as a result.

Michelle, who was subsequently promoted to Theatre Manager at the Ystrad Mynach hospital and now manages a team of 35, said: “I hit rock bottom during Covid and even wrote out the email to say I would be quitting my studies before my tutor at ACT stepped in to stop me – I just didn’t know how I was going to finish my qualification.”

“But they worked with me to get through it all and now, after 20 years working in surgical theatres, I have finally got to where I always wanted to be. We’re almost back to where we were before Covid-19 hit as a team and, in the interim, I’ve also been able to support the resurrection of an all-new, highly inclusive theatre department fit for the future of ABUHB – a lot of which is down the studies I’ve completed with the support of my tutors at ACT and colleagues at ABUHB.”

Carolyn Joyce also received her Level 3 ILM qualification at the event after completing her studies proved to be the ‘constant’ she needed when she was redeployed into the pharmaceutical team supporting critical care wards at the Royal Gwent during the pandemic, from her role as Lead for Mouth Care Improvement for Vulnerable Adults at ABUHB, .

Carolyn, who lives in Cardiff and has now signed up to do her Level 4, said: “Carrying on with the qualification was my ‘normality’ really, and since returning to my role from the pandemic it has really equipped me with the skills and confidence I needed to develop in my leadership role further.”

Carolyn, Michelle and their co-workers were joined at the presentation event by tutors who led them through their studies on behalf of ACT, as a key provider of vocational learning opportunities within Wales’ healthcare sector, as well as supervising staff from AHUHB.

Hannah Williams, Head of Organisational Development at ABUHB, said: “I join all my colleagues in the Workforce and Organisational Development directorate in congratulating each and every employee who has completed an apprenticeship with ACT.

“The last couple of years have been particularly trying, and to have the tenacity to complete a qualification during a particularly intense period of working is commendable. I appreciate the level of contribution from each individual in achieving their competencies, it’s no small feat meeting the qualification requirements, congratulations to each of you.”

“A special thank you, too, to ACT for being a supportive partner and enabling our workforce to access and achieve their potential,” she added.

ACT Managing Director Richard Spear also praised co-workers gathered for the celebration and congratulated ABUHB in shortlisting a further 100 candidates for three new apprenticeship roles it has recently opened as part of its ongoing commitment to supporting growth and development within its workforce too.

Mr Spears said: “There have been so many challenges that our learners here at ACT have had to overcome in recent years and it’s an honour to be celebrating so much success, which is even more impressive for those juggling work and study commitments in an NHS setting.

“The journey to achieving their qualifications for this latest group of Apprentices in particular has been as turbulent as it has testing, and we wanted to show them all how delighted and impressed we are at the tenacity each one of them has shown in completing their studies.”

“We are really proud to be working in such close partnership with the team at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board to support the ongoing development of its workforce, and helping it to become the very best it can be,” Richard added.

“Jonathan and I feel really fortunate to have met with some really inspiring people at the presentation event, therefore, and would like to congratulate all those involved in supporting yet another cohort of Apprentices to achieve their true potential, come what may.”

ACT helps thousands of people across 30 different sectors in Wales reach their full potential every year through the provision of a wide selection of vocational training programmes and qualifications including Jobs Growth Wales+ (JGW+), Apprenticeships and Higher Apprenticeships, employability training, short commercial courses and more.

For more information on courses available, visit