Singing nurse awarded a ‘Standing Ovation’

An Assistant Nurse at St Helena Hospice has received a ‘Standing Ovation’ accolade from men’s health charity Prostate Cancer UK. The initiative responds to nominations for individuals or groups who provide extraordinary support to men with prostate cancer.

Footage of Emma Young showing her special musical talent at St Helena Hospice was brought to the charity’s attention last year, when Prostate Cancer UK supporter Chris Stokes shared a video of her entertaining patients by piano-playing and singing popular hits. The patients at the time included Mr Stokes’ father, Geoff, who later died with prostate cancer.

Chris praised Emma for the joy that her musical renditions had brought to his father at the hospice’s Inpatient Unit during his final days. He nominated Emma to be the first recipient of the Standing Ovation award from the charity. 

Emma continues to combine her nursing duties with performing music at St Helena Hospice, bringing a smile to the faces of all the patients she meets. 

In recognition, Emma received a Standing Ovation certificate after the charity produced a short film about her work and the positive impact her spontaneous musical performances has on patients. She also received a traditional round of applause in the form of a standing ovation from colleagues, patients, family and friends at a presentation held at the Hospice.

Chris Stokes, nominator of the award for Emma, said: “I’ve been using the Prostate Cancer UK online community for about two years, when my Dad was having problems, and the support gave me some therapy. I still use it now, even after Dad’s gone, and I posted about Emma at St Helena Hospice, and how Dad enjoyed her musical performances in his last days. It was amazing hearing this nurse singing at the piano. She probably doesn’t realise how much of a huge difference it genuinely makes to patients and families. When Prostate Cancer UK saw my post and got in touch, I was only too pleased to nominate Emma for a Standing Ovation award.”

Heidi Downs, Clinical Nurse Manager at St Helena Hospice, added: “Our nurses have many skills, and having Emma who can play the piano and sing so beautifully is really unique and such an asset. When she sings it really changes the atmosphere on the unit. The patients just love it, it brings a moment of calm and peace. We thank the Stokes family and Prostate Cancer UK for acknowledging what Emma does.”

Assistant Nurse Emma Young explained how performing songs for hospice patients came about, and what receiving the Standing Ovation award from Prostate Cancer UK meant to her: “I don’t put myself out there because I’m not particularly confident. But one day, one of the other nurses urged me to sit down at the piano and play a few songs, so that’s what I did. And now people ask me, and I just do it. I tend to perform slower songs, because I think that suits my voice better, and I love Adele!  But I hear a song and just try it out.

“It’s nice that Prostate Cancer UK have noticed what I do through Chris Stokes’ experience. There’s a lot more to nursing than medication, so the fact that my music had such a positive effect on Chris’s dad Geoff and the Stokes family, and to our patients now, is really meaningful. Everyone seems to enjoy the music, so being able to put a smile on people’s faces, for however long, is really satisfying to know”.

Tracey Pritchard, Executive Director of Engagement at Prostate Cancer UK said:“Every 45 minutes one man loses his life to the most common cancer in men in the UK. Thousands of families every year are bereft of their fathers, brothers, uncles and partners, and thousands more support their loved ones through their diagnosis and treatment.

“Thanks to our supporter Chris Stokes, we’ve learned how Emma Young has combined her nursing work with performing music so wonderfully to provide an enduring impact on men with prostate cancer and their families at the most difficult time.  Emma typifies the many nurses who care for men with prostate cancer all over the UK, often going above and beyond the call of duty in their approach.

“We’re thrilled to recognise Emma with our inaugural Standing Ovation award and look forward to our supporters following Chris’ lead by nominating other deserving recipients”.

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