A RECENTLY retired cardiac nurse from outside Dromore has spoken of her delight at receiving an unexpected honour this New Year.

Mrs. Florence Harper, widely known as Flo, who lives in Omagh, but is originally from the townland of Dullaghan, close to the border between Tyrone and Fermanagh, received an MBE for services to cardiac care.

She worked at the Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh for over 30 years.

Before her retirement in June this year, she was a Specialist Cardiology Nurse and Sister in charge of the hospital’s Cardiac Assessment Unit.

However, she has not given up her work completely just yet.

The mother-of-three is still doing the occasional bank shift at the new Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex, which has since replaced the ‘County’.

Speaking to the Impartial Reporter about her MBE this week, Mrs. Harper said: “I was shocked, actually. I didn’t expect it at all. I was delighted and honoured to receive it.”

She added: “I’ve received it on behalf of all the staff I worked with. Everybody worked hard.”

The respected nurse said her husband Trevor and three grown-up children, Bryan, Emma and Claire, were all “very proud” of her achievement.

After training at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald between 1981 and 1984, Mrs. Harper spent another year in East Belfast before returning to her home county to work in the ‘County’.

She remained in Omagh for the rest of her career, apart from a five-month secondment to Belfast City Hospital in 1988 for a coronary care course.

When the Tyrone County Hospital lost its acute services in 2009, the Cardiac Assessment Unit became nurse-led with consultant supervision.

Mrs. Harper said: “It’s a walk-in service which patients who are experiencing chest pains or shortness of breath can attend. We can re-stabilise them and move them on to another hospital or else discharge them.

“At that time I was a rapid access chest pain nurse and performed nurse-led DC cardioversions.”

Describing her as an “exceptional nurse”, Western Health Trust chairman, Niall Birthistle, said that she was a shining example of someone who was “totally dedicated and passionate” about their work.

He said: “Florence has dedicated her career to providing the best care to patients from Omagh and surrounding areas who have attended the Cardiac Assessment Unit over the past 30 years.”

Dr. Paul McGlinchey, Consultant Cardiologist, said he was personally delighted that Flo Harper had received recognition of her commitment to the patients of the Western Trust in West Tyrone and beyond.

Dr. McGlinchey said: “She is an exemplary person and health care professional, a great friend as well as a great nurse. Nurses, in particular, should look no further than Flo when seeking to see what they can do to improve the lives of the population we serve.

“Whilst change is constantly happening, it is not always embraced, but Flo Harper consistently over a long number of years pushed boundaries of nursing to ensure that patients in Omagh received excellent nursing and medical attention that has afforded them longer and better lives.”

He added: “I would like to congratulate her on behalf of former and current colleagues who have worked with her in the Cardiac Assessment Unit over the past decades and wish her well in the future.”