Doncaster nurse Zara set for Royal appointment

Zara Head
Zara Head

As a youngster growing up in Bentley in the 1970s, Zara Head wanted to be a nurse from as long ago as she could remember.

Even at the age of three, she was photographed on her bike in the nurse's costume that she loved to wear all the time in those days.

But as a teenager at Don Valley School, Scawthorpe, she remembers being told she would never make it into the profession she dreamed of because she was 'not clever enough'.

That was like a red rag to a bull - and now she is one of Doncaster's most senior nurses as lead nurse for primary care quality with Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, working with health centres across Doncaster.

She said: "I just wanted to prove them wrong. If anyone says to me that I can't do something, then I've got to try, and I think it made me determined to succeed.

"I'm not academic and it was hard, and I dug my heels in. Perhaps the teacher knew me better than I realised. I'm actually grateful now, but it took time to get to that point."

Zara wanted to be Bentley Colliery's pit nurse at that point, and after training at Scunthorpe, went on to learn about orthopedics - the branch of medicine that deals with the treatment of injuries of the bones and joints - as that would have been a key still for the job.

But as she qualified in her specialisation in 1994, coal mines were closing, so she went on to work in A&E, before later finding a role that she loved, working as a GPs' practice nurse for 11 years.

"In hospitals, people come in, you treat them, and they leave," she said. "As a practice nurse, you know your patients and you know their families, and how things are affecting them. You get to know them long term and see how they are."

She moved to her current job after spending time as an inspector for the Care Standards Agency.

Now, at the age of 48, Zara has been invited to an event hosted by Prince Charles next month.

She was thrilled to receive the invitation.

It states: "The master of the household has received Her Majesties command to invite Ms Zara Head to a reception given at Buckingham Palace for those engaged in front line nursing in the United Kingdom in the presence of HRH the Prince of Wales."

Zara, who now lives with her husband and children in Hatfield, said: "For a Bentley girl like me this is massive. Years ago I was told I was not clever enough to be a nurse, but I proved I was - now I really think I've proved that point."

"We've got fantastic nurses here in Doncaster, and nurses at 43 doctors practice who are all great at what they do. I'm really lucky because I get to do a job that I love.

"Now I'm off to Buckingham Palace, and will meet Prince Charles - I'm really looking forward to it."

Zara previously hit the headlines in 2015, when she and her family turned their holiday on the Greek island of Lesbos into an aid mission to help refugees, after arriving on the island and seeing the difficulties faced by migrants.

She and her family vowed to help as many dispossessed refugees as possible during their fortnight-long stay, bringing in supplies such as fresh water.

But the thing that gives her the greatest pride is that in 2008 she became a Queen's Nurse. You have to be nominated by your patents. It is a title awarded by the Queens' Nursing Institute to nurses who want to 'demonstrate their commitment to patient-centred values and continually improving practice'.