Former sprinter to retire after nearly 50 years as NHS nurse

A former international sprinter – once described as the “fastest woman in Africa” – is retiring after almost five decades as an NHS nurse.

Matron Rose Amankwaah, who represented Ghana at the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games, is to retire at the end of this month after 49 years as an NHS nurse.

The theatre matron started working in the NHS in 1975 – just three years after she ran in the 100 metre relay for Ghana at the Munich 1972 Olympics.

Tony Blair and Rose Amamkwaah
Former prime minister Tony Blair met Rose during a trip to the hospital in 1999 (PA)

She was initially given weekends off so she could continue her athletics training, where she ran alongside a young Linford Christie.

Mrs Amankwaah, who competed in a number of major competitions including the Africa Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics, added another gong to her medal haul last year when she was given the NHS Silver Medal Award by England’s chief nurse, Dame Ruth May.

She moved to England in 1974 aged just 22, and shortly afterwards started training to be a nurse.

During her time at London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, the mother-of-four and grandmother-of-10 has met both royalty and senior politicians.

Archive pictures show Ms Amankwaah shaking hands with the King, the then-Prince of Wales, and former prime minister Tony Blair.

She told the PA news agency: “I’m happy that I’m going to have some time with my family but I have been in this hospital all my life, so retirement feels like losing something – you’re part of the furniture and all of a sudden you are not going to be.

“But I’m so happy that I have achieved what I want to achieve.”

Mrs Amankwaah met the King when he visited the hospital in 2008 (London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust)

Her first trip in retirement will be to Ghana to visit her 87-year-old sister, with a number of other holidays in the pipeline.

Retirement also means she will be able to watch the Paris Olympics in the summer.

She is still weighing up whether or not to stay on the nursing register and work in a bank role to provide supplementary cover when called on.

On her sprinting career she added: “I started running in 1958 when I was in secondary school in Ghana.

“I started representing Ghana with a high jump but then a coach came to me and said they would like to train me (in 100m and 200m races).”

Her athletics accolades include a bronze medal in the 4x100m relay at the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand in 1974, representing Ghana in the same race at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games and a gold medal in a 200m race in an Africa versus America athletics competition in 1973.

She also won a silver medal in the 100m at the Africa Games and was part of the Ghanaian team that won the 4x100m relay at the same competition.

A London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust spokesperson said: “The NHS is all about people and we’ll all miss Rose when she goes. She is a great nurse and personality and, after 49 years, still knows how to set the pace and run the race.”

Jane Clegg, chief nurse for the NHS in London, said: “I would like to thank and congratulate Rose on behalf of the whole NHS for her incredible 49 years of service.

“She has positively impacted thousands of lives and for this she was rightly awarded the NHS Silver Medal Award last year, and I wish her all the best for this new chapter in her life.”

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –