In Our Hands
A unique exhibition that celebrates the stories and passions of Weston Hospital’s staff members, paying tribute to their huge contribution to the health of the town through a series of photographic portraits. Featuring some of the contributors’ cherished objects and favourite Weston locations, this exhibition – created by UHBW Arts & Culture with photographer Paul Blakemore and UHBW Medical Illustration – added an extra dimension to one of the town’s favourite public spaces during the Weston Arts + Health Festival 2022, where it was displayed at Princess Royal Square. The exhibition has recently moved to Weston General Hospital and we are thrilled to also be able to bring it to you digitally.
Dafne has been part of the Sustainability Team at Weston General Hospital since 2017.
I always said, when I was a kid, that I would love to live by the seaside.
I was born in Venezuela and then we went to live in Italy when I was a teenager, but we never moved by the water. Then I got married and moved to Tenerife, and I lived by the sea. Finally my dream came true.
I have been living in Weston for 9 years, it’s not a real, real seaside, but you know, I do love it.
I’ve got a very big family in Venezuela because my mother had eleven brothers and sisters. My father was Italian and at home all the pasta and pizza was homemade; it didn’t have to be a special occasion, it happened every day, all the time, so the smell of pizza reminds me of my family.
I try to make the most of everything. I like to talk to everybody and learn about how people live. I love Weston, I love the place where I work, I love the job I do. And I love to help people in any way at all.
If somebody needs my help and I can, I will.
Helen is a nurse working for the Vaccination Team. She has worked night shifts for 30 years.
It’s all about getting out and having a laugh.
My dog is called Jack and he’s 11 years old now. We love to walk along the beach; he’s not keen on the water though so it is great because the sea is so far out. I used to go cycling too and he’d run alongside and when he got tired, I’d pop him
in the little basket on the front of the bike, it was great fun.
I’ve moved around and lived by the sea a lot, here in Somerset and also in Scotland.
I think your identity has a lot to do with where you feel you come from, so it can be hard when you’ve moved around so much. I was born in Street, near Glastonbury, and I’ve been back here for 20 years now so I suppose I’ve finally come home.
It’s a family at Weston Hospital, it really is. We all look out for each other and because we are very international we are more aware and interested in what’s going on in people’s lives and what might be happening in different places and other people’s backyards. It’s always been like this.
Always felt like a family.
Alison has been working at Weston General Hospital since 1980 and is a Senior Sister at the Oncology & Haematology Day Unit.
I enjoy the sun. It makes me feel well.
I like to go out walking or sit and read and relax and just re-charge the batteries. It’s a nice down time when I’m busy at work. We often come and walk along the seafront – we’re so lucky to have it right on the doorstep really.
I live in Worle and I like to go for a walk first thing in the morning when I’m not working. I love to go up to Uphill overlooking the sea, it’s a beautiful place to walk. It’s gorgeous because you can see all the way down the coast this way towards town and then you can also see round to Brean as well.
I was born in Weston and it draws you back.
I started working at Weston General in 1980 and obviously it’s changed a lot. I did my training originally at the old Hospital on the seafront: there are flats and houses there now.
Weston being small means it’s personal and you know how the processes work; there’s a really nice community in the hospital and you can get to know everybody.
Johns moved to the UK in 2008 and has been working at the Hospital in the Housekeeping Team since 2018.
Photography has always been a passion for me.
Back in Kerala, South India, I studied Computer Sciences but I didn’t like the job, as I didn’t want to spend hours coding sitting in front of the computer. I like to be outside all the time.
I have always taken photographs in different, unique ways, but I used a small camera. I got my first proper camera when I came to the UK; I learnt techniques myself through YouTube, books and online courses and I’m still learning. After I learnt everything I had my daughters, so they were my subjects, I was always taking photographs of them. After 4 years in the UK, I started doing gigs: weddings, concerts, festivals. One of my favourites is the colourful balloon festival in Bristol.
I have been working at the hospital since 2018 and I just started a full-time contract so I don’t have much time for my photography at the moment. I also like spending time with my kids, we go to Ashcombe park or the woods area by the beach. I don’t mind cities, because there are lots of chances to take photos, cityscapes, people, but I don’t much like city life, I like somewhere calm.
Tina has been part of the Housekeeping Team at the Hospital since 2004.
I like plants a lot: this vase hosts a very special one.
I used to work as a housekeeper in the Doctors’ Mess and when I changed my hours this plant was given to me as a leaving present. To the person who gave it to me, I said to him: “I love plants but they don’t like me!”
I wished I could have a plant that doesn’t die on me, which it hasn’t, so that’s good! This is my only houseplant, but I have lots of flowers in my garden. I love flowers, so I like doing my gardening.
I go on long cycle rides on the seafront with my family and friends. I like the cycle from Uphill to Brean, through the Nature Reserve, because my parents and my brother live in Brean. I go there and we have tea; it is a lot quicker than taking the car. I like to make cakes and sometimes I bring a cake for them.
I come from Taunton and then I moved to Brean with my parents many years ago. I now live in Weston with my husband and one of my three children; the other two moved out recently.
I do like working at the hospital, I like my ward: the people I work with are nice and I just enjoy the job.
Nel moved to the UK in 2017 and started working at the Hospital as a Housekeeper in 2019.
This is a special hat with a lot of memories.
I’m from the Philippines and we had a holiday about 4 years ago. We use hats and umbrellas all the time there because it’s really hot, especially in summer. We went to a nice island and there was a vendor on the beach selling different kinds of hats: we bought this one – that’s it! It goes everywhere we go, it reminds me of home. It’s really well used, all full of dust I guess!
I live in Uphill. We go walking around Uphill all the time and to the boatyard, it’s a nice place. The Philippines are really mountainy and there’s loads of jungle so the big cliff rocks in the boatyard are like that. My son George loves that area there, he can run around so we always go there and run to the top of the hill, he loves it!
It’s really nice to live in Weston. Before, I lived in Dubai for about 6 years – that’s where I met my husband – and it’s like 50 degrees there, crazy hot! And in the Philippines it’s so humid, we have six months summer and then six months rainy season so its really hard. Here there is a balance: I love it here, and I love working in the Hospital.
Lek has been working in the Housekeeping Team at the Hospital since 2018.
I cook every day.
It’s not that I love to cook but sometimes if I buy food or get takeaway I can’t get the right taste and I know what I like. My food always has a lot of chilli and spice in it. I like to make spicy salads or noodles, or seafood: it always has got chilli in it! The chilli always gives me a lot of energy and makes me feel better when I’m down.
I’m from Thailand originally but I followed my heart here more than ten years ago, when we moved to Weston together. We knew each other for a long time before we were married. It’s been about 16 or 17 years now.
I don’t live far from Grove Park and in summer time it has flowers and is very pretty. I like to be outside and it’s nice in Weston, we have our own beach too. The sea isn’t really blue like somewhere else but it’s a nice place to go to have a little run after work or on a day off.
Sometimes I jog with my colleagues, it’s nice to run together if we can find the time. At the hospital, everybody smiles and says good morning, they are really nice and friendly.
Gideon moved to the UK in 2006 and works at the Hospital in the Housekeeping Team.
I’ve had these shoes for over 20 years.
My father-in-law came on holiday to the UK and brought these shoes back to Nigeria for me as a gift. I loved them so much because of their design, if you wear them you don’t feel the heat because they are perforated. Everytime I wore them I felt much more comfortable.
Because of my love for the shoes, I had to bring them back to the UK when I moved here. I can’t remember the last time I wore them, probably they are not fashionable now, but I still love them and I keep them safe in their own box. Maybe eventually as time goes on, I will go back to Africa and give them to somebody. They will definitely cherish them.
I don’t stress myself. I work, I do a lot of things, but I do not let anything trouble my mind.
I go to church in Weston where there is a lot of singing, jumping and dancing and people from different countries in Africa. It is a good way to have a community.
ISABEL AND BRUNO
Isabel and Bruno work night shifts together at the Hospital in the Housekeeping Team.
Boxing is a very good therapy.
We’ve been boxing for around five years now but we mostly do box fitness, we don’t fight. We did try fights but we said, “Oh no way!”. Even when so many things are happening and it’s stressful, we know we need to go to the gym; when we go there, we leave all the stress and everything in the bag.
We moved to Weston in 2007, nearly 15 years! We are from Porto, a big city in Portugal which is really busy with lots of traffic and here it is all different, everything is much calmer. We weren’t used to people who do not know you saying hello to you.The first time someone said good morning I said good morning back but then we asked each other, “Do you know them?” In London and other big cities, people don’t speak to you, so it’s much more friendly here and we do like it.
We like to take our dog Jess on walks to the Marine Lake, down to the beach and the seafront. She doesn’t like water though so we also go to parks, she loves to chase the squirrels in Clarence Park. We have to leave her when we go paddleboarding because she goes mad seeing us on the water!
Joan has been working in the Housekeeping Team at the Hospital since 2017.
I’m always the happiest when I’m with my family.
Me and the girls went on holiday with my husband for his special birthday, his 70th, we surprised him with a trip to Greece. He didn’t know anything about it: we told him the day before! So this is a special photo, really.
We’ve been in Weston 36 years now. We used to come here from London to visit and we thought, “What a lovely place to live, by the sea!”.
So we decided to move and then my children were born here.
When the kids were younger, we used to spend a lot of time at the beach or walking in the woods. We like walking. Grove Park is lovely, I’m expecting my first grandchild, so I’m looking forward to going there with them.
I get on well with my colleagues, and I like the interaction with all the patients, especially when they do not have family, or when they couldn’t have visitors because of Covid. I like to think that even though I am only cleaning I get to spend a lot of time with them and I chat with them. I just hope that I make a little difference to their day, even if this is just something little I do.
An has been working in the Housekeeping Team at the Hospital since Spring 2022.
Cycling is a ticket to go back to childhood times.
On my bike the memories come back to me; I always travelled by bike in the city where I grew up in Vietnam. Riding was not comfortable then because I was wearing a traditional long fitted dress for high school, now it’s not so difficult.
Cycling is a healthy exercise for busy people and it’s good for Mother Earth: hopefully in the future more people will ride their bikes to work.
I moved to Norway for love and spent two winters at -20°, it was tough! Vietnam was too hot but Norway was too cold for me. Now we live here, the weather is in between.
I like talking to people about their story. When friends have problems, they come and talk to me, heart to heart. After we talk they feel relieved. I think that’s why, when I have friends, they are really close.
My daughter goes to Primary School and I want to teach her to dream big.
My name is KimAnh but everyone here calls me An. I love it because in Vietnamese it means peaceful, and that’s what I want my life to be.
Jason works as a Housekeeper in the Oncology & Haematology Day Unit.
I am going to keep this card in a safe box.
Jacob is my first grandchild. Him and my daughter and my family keep me in Weston, most of my family live here. It feels like home.
So far I’ve got two cards, the little keyring from when Jacob was in the womb, and I’ve got photographs on my phone I need to transfer so they can be printed off. I want to keep them close to my heart.
I was born in Wales and lived in Weston from the age of five. When we were all growing up, our parents would send us out with our packed lunches, with all the big brothers round the estate and we used to jump off the wall of Knightstone Island, into the sea, over the rocks at high tide.
I must have been probably about ten. It still brings back memories every time I see it. I still tend to walk down the seafront and sit there thinking, “Oh, I remember years ago we used to jump off that!”
For coming up nineteen years I’ve worked at the Hospital. It’s good, especially in my team on Oncology, they really look after me; when I was off sick, they always bought me hampers.
Shona has been working at the Hospital since 2015 and works as a Team Administrator.
I just get so much pleasure out of my craft.
I enjoy making them but then I enjoy giving them to people too, because they are always so blown away by them. I have a picnic table that I open in the garden or in my living room: I pile my stuff on it and I just cut and glue and stick.
I am from Clydebank, just outside Glasgow.
When I was 20 I joined the Army, lived in several different places, then lived in Edinburgh and in 2013 I finally moved to Weston.
I always stand up for the underdog, for people that are not treated fairly. And one day I thought: “I could do that as a job!” So I have recently completed a degree in psychology and criminology at the Open University. I would like to work with victims of crimes, back in Scotland, one day.
The office I work in, I couldn’t ask to work with a better group of women. They are just amazing. We have a big kitchen table in the middle of the office; we sit around the table, we have a chat, and it is surprising how much that table creates a social atmosphere.
Julie has been working in the Housekeeping Team at the Hospital since 2019.
This teddy is just so precious to me.
I came here from a little village in Scotland when I was nineteen; when I had my first child, I had no family here.
My mum sent me this little teddy for my first son and he kept it everywhere with him. When I was pregnant with my second child, I was really worried about my eldest because I thought: “Will he be alright with another ball of energy?”.
He was so attached to his teddy, but when he came into hospital to meet the new baby he said it was time that he gave his teddy to his brother: it’s really special.
If I’m in town with anybody, the Winter Gardens will be my meeting place. In the summers when my boys were small we spent a lot of time there, and now that my Mum’s moved to Weston, we’ll sit and watch the world go by, having a chat.
I absolutely love my job; I get the benefit of chatting to the patients. Everybody at work has been so kind, so welcoming. And Weston is quite a diverse place; my partner is Afro-Caribbean so for our boys to grow up here and feel that they belong, I love Weston for that!
Bobby has been working in the Housekeeping Team at the Hospital since 2017.
I chose this mug which has the West Indies cricket team logo on as it is one of my favourite sports.
This mug was a gift that was brought back from the Caribbean by my friend who travelled to watch the England vs West Indies games. I used to play cricket back in Guyana but stopped when I moved to the UK in 2005.
Since I moved, a few other friends from Guyana came to live in Weston. We enjoy going over to each other’s houses for dinner or a drink, or go out to restaurants and pubs. We also go to watch cricket. At matches, I often find other people from Guyana and also places like Trinidad, Barbados or Antigua. While the language is the same as in the UK, culture is something that you are born and grow into. There are differences in the way you talk, the way you do things, an understanding.
Before working here, I worked in a cheese factory for 13 years. I also used to work part time in bookbinding.
I like working at the hospital, I get on well with everybody there.
Mihaela has been working at the Hospital in the Housekeeping Team since 2019.
This scarf and this icon are gifts from my sister.
I’ve had them for years. The icon represents Saint Archangel Mihail and Gavril: she got it for me on a trip to Greece as we share the same name.
My sister lives in Cyprus and whenever I go to visit, she gives me many presents: she’s like a princess!
I have six siblings and my family are all around Europe so it’s important to hold onto things that make me think of them.
In 2012 I left Romania to work in a bar in Greece for the holiday season. My partner was also working there, he is from Weston and after two years we decided to move here and find more stable jobs. We still have friends and family there and it feels like home although when you are from another country, nowhere feels like home really.
I found a Christian Orthodox Church in Bristol, sometimes I travel there on Sundays. When I am not working, I like to read and cook from scratch; I’m also finishing my degree in Business Management and Sustainable Venture Creation. It keeps me very busy!
Sara moved from Italy in 2017 and has been working at the Welcome Desk at the Hospital since 2020.
This cake mould belonged to my grandmother.
I’ve had it for maybe over 25 years. It’s one of the few objects that remain from her, so it’s very precious for me. My grandmother used it to make budino, a delicious Italian chocolate dessert, and I remember sitting in the kitchen watching her. And then enjoyed eating it with her.
Weston Museum is a special place for me. Before working at the hospital I was an Activity Coordinator in a care home and I used to bring the residents here. It is a place full of memories for them because it’s all about life in the past. Working with elderly people gave me a lot of joy and helped me to learn a lot about the country that has become my new home: I learnt all of the Vera Lynn repertoire! Singing is very important for people with dementia and there was no day that went by without a singalong.
I started working at the hospital during the pandemic, but when my son’s a bit older and independent, I’d love to be able to work again as Activity Coordinator, it gave me so much satisfaction and I felt so useful.
Karen is an Acute Pain Advanced Clinical Practitioner; she started working at the Hospital in 1997.
If you’re anxious or even in pain, just hold something firm, like one of these rocks.
My daughter and I over the years have painted little rocks and hidden them in parks around Weston. The idea is that you feel the inspiration from the rock and then hide it again for somebody else. I was in Burnham-on-Sea and I came out of a shop and on a windowsill was this little rock; when I picked it up and held it I didn’t want to re-hide it. I felt very connected with it so very excitedly I went home and showed my daughter and she goes, “That’s my rock. I painted it and left it there and now you’ve found it!”
Even though it’s just a pebble it’s one of the most treasured items in my whole life.
I love Clarence Park. I emigrated to Canada and my daughter was born there, but every year we would come home and go to the park and she’d feed the squirrels. Years later I moved back to Weston and when my son was born I spent so much time here with him: climbing trees, chasing squirrels, hiding nuts. The trees are so old in character, getting back to nature in the town – it’s beautiful, I love it.
Sayani is a Specialty Registrar in Emergency Medicine and moved from India in January 2022.
This is the plastic bottle that I had when me and my partner were travelling from India.
I’m a big fan of Minions so this is the crazy one of the lot that has gone mad and became an evil Minion of the family; my partner likes the purple colour so I made it for her.
I wanted to be a painter when I was a kid and then it never worked out but I keep doing this; I stopped painting but I make crafts. Most of the time there is always something else going on in the back of my mind, ”Ooh I have to do this” or “I have to do that’’, but whenever I am doing craft, it’s like there is nothing else going on in my head.
Weston is a nice quiet place, I like quieter, I’m quite an introverted person. I like the countryside, I can’t live in cities for long, it’s not my thing.
Whenever me and my partner have time we go to Uphill for the sunsets – it’s very beautiful. You can see the whole sea and the hills beyond that and when the sun is setting all the colours in the sky are changing.
You can never get enough pictures of sunsets.
Martin has been working as a Volunteer at the Hospital since the end of 2019.
Cycling keeps me fit.
My regular training route is from Congresbury, where I live, out through Langford and Blagdon, Charterhouse, to the top of Cheddar Gorge, whizz down there, up Shipham Hill, through Churchill, and back to Congresbury.
I did a City & Guilds bike mechanic course and now I know how to build wheels. My bike’s off the road at the moment but I’m hoping to get back to my regular route soon.
I absolutely love being an NHS meet and greet volunteer, helping people and giving them directions: it feels worthwhile. The other day I helped a Romanian lady, I even got to speak with her in Romanian on the way to A&E, my friend taught me a few phrases.
I am doing a Level 2 Supporting Teaching and Learning course and I’m hoping to be a Voluntary Learning Support Assistant in French and German classes in a local secondary school, I’m looking forward to the challenge!
Hayley has been a nurse for 25 years and has worked as a Learning Disability & Autism Nurse since 2019.
I have always wanted a dog and I’ve never been able to have one.
Now I live over the road from work I can go home on my lunch break to walk the dog: I can’t really get any closer to home. It’s added loads to my quality of life, it really has.
Gracie is a greyhound and they are not vocal dogs, they’re very quiet. She’ll just stare at me for ages if she wants something and then if I don’t notice her, she goes and fetches this pheasant and she stands in front of me making this honking noise, and it’s like she’s speaking to me. Me and my daughter always say she’s communicating by the medium of pheasant, it just makes us laugh.
I’m from the Midlands originally, I’ve been down here about twelve years. I’ve never lived by the seaside so to me the beach here is just beautiful. I love it, I feel so relaxed and calm around there.
I love the variety of my job: I’ve got a few things that I can anticipate but I never know who’s going to be here until I get here in the morning. Variety is the spice of life!
Pauline has been a nurse since 1988 and works as Clinical Site Manager at Weston Hospital.
Once I find something that makes me happy I’m content then and I don’t stop being content.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago and Kelly, one of the ward managers, painted me a rock with the breast cancer pink ribbon logo on it and a bear holding it, just to let me know that people were looking after me. I keep it in a little dish in the front room with the other cards and it just makes me feel what I have gone through and what I have come out the other side of and it gives me a lot of strength.
I was a little bit down and all that, and I thought one day, “I’m just going to go for a walk along the seafront”. Now I do a 4 mile walk every morning, I like to be down there between 6 and 7am. I walk all the way along the seafront and back again and I love it.
It’s the best time, the best. I’ve got quite a lot of beach buddies now, I wave to all the bin men and the beach rangers and you see the same people every morning you know, and it’s nice just to say “Hi, how are you?” and go on your way.
Koye has been a Hip and Knee Surgeon at the Hospital since 2015 and is Deputy Clinical Chair since 2022.
I love to exercise. For me, it is like food, and my favourite dish is cycling.
My train and bike ride to work in the mornings sets me up for the day, it gives me a real buzz and launches the day on an energetic footing. If I’m walking from clinic to the operating theatres, I run up the stairs to get my heart rate and energy levels up. I call them “exercise snacks”. I’ve been at Weston Hospital for over 7 years now and I do not know what the inside of the lifts looks like!
I often end the day with a “big meal”: a 30-mile ride back from Weston to my home in Bristol, where I am welcomed by my 3 children who literally jump on me as soon as I walk into the front door. That is the dessert; gives me a warm, sweet feeling every time.
Weston, for me, is a hidden gem. I came here almost by chance and have never looked back.
I love being a hip and knee surgeon. There is nothing more gratifying than watching the transforming effect surgery has on the lives of my patients. I feel very privileged being a part of their journeys.
Jackie started working at the Hospital in 2018 and is the Personal Assistant to the Head of Nursing.
Many years ago I was given a really old sewing machine and started learning dressmaking.
I used to volunteer at a children’s theatre company in the wardrobe department. When I had my kids I didn’t have much time but I did things like fancy dresses for them. Now I have picked it up again and I’m learning from scratch. One of the things on my 60 things to do before 60 list is I want to make a period costume from the 1920’s, something with beads and sequins to wear at my birthday party; that’s my ambition!
I was born in Dorset and I have moved home 24 times in my life: my dad was in the Navy and I joined the Navy as well. I love to travel, this year I went on my bucket list holiday travelling across Canada. I have such itchy feet, I can’t keep still!
I cycle to work on my blue and white spotty bike. In the mornings, if I’m up early I’ll come down to the beach while there’s nobody there.
I have worked in the NHS on and off for decades and it’s nice to come back. My colleagues are great, we get along well and make a good team.