An Interview With: The Longest-Serving Roald Dahl Specialist Nurse

Posted by
Vicky Hewlett
Posted on
11:50am, 16th February
photo of Miranda Gardner

As part of Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity #MarvellousMilestones series to celebrate the charity’s 30th anniversary, we caught up with our longest-serving Roald Dahl Specialist Nurse, Miranda Gardner who has been in post for 25 years!

Tell us about your Roald Dahl Specialist Nurse role? I have worked as the Roald Dahl Head Injury Specialist Nurse in the Wessex Neurological Centre at University Hospital Southampton since September 1996. I look after patients with moderate and severe traumatic brain injury over the age of 16. The role involves case management of patients in the acute phase and onto rehab plus support when they are back at home and beyond.

How does it feel to be the longest-serving Roald Dahl Specialist Nurse (still in post)? It is rather scary to realise that I am. I am very lucky to still really enjoy my job after 25 years.

What were you doing before you became a Roald Dahl Specialist Nurse?  Before this role I worked in a number of different specialities including Burns and Plastics, Cardiology, General Intensive Care and the Prison Medical Service in Australia. I finally moved into Neuroscience Research, working on the neuroprotective trials which developed my interest in traumatic brain injury.  

What did you love the most about being a Roald Dahl Specialist Nurse?  I love that being a Roald Dahl Specialist Nurse gives me the ability to do the kind of nursing I’ve always wanted to do, which is centred around problem solving and practical hands on caring directly with the patients and their families.

Tell us about a couple of highlights over the last 25 years as a Roald Dahl Specialist Nurse? There have been many highlights over the years, in fact, too many to count. Nothing beats a patient walking back on to the Neuro Intensive Care Unit to visit the staff. The one real highlight that stands out over the 25 years is the Queen’s 80th Birthday Party at Buckingham Palace when I took a young patient with her friend to the garden party. It was magical. The second is presenting at the SBNS Conference in Manchester a couple of years ago, along with being awarded my Masters with Distinction in 2000. 

What advice would you give a new Roald Dahl Specialist Nurse? Make the most of a very special job; they are few and far between. Take every opportunity you are offered and step out of your comfort zone once in a while, it is worth it.

What do you think makes the role of a Roald Dahl Specialist Nurse so unique? I think it’s the face that you are able to fashion the job into one of your own and make it a success.

If this post hadn’t been created, what challenges might the patients and families in your care have faced? There would have been a Lack of continuity, no “go to person”, very limited psychological support as well as unnecessary and avoidable physical and emotional complications for the patients and their families.

How do you feel that there are now 79 Roald Dahl Specialist Nurses all over the UK?! It’s an amazing achievement for the Charity and I’m very proud to be one of the first.

What’s your favourite Roald Dahl book or character and why?

The BFG.  The irreverent humour is right up my street.

What do you love doing when you’re not at work?! Visiting family, entertaining at home, gardening and growing roses and looking after dogs, cats and the chickens. 

To view all of our #MarvellousMilestones, view our video slideshow