A staff nurse at Lincoln County Hospital is really feeling the pressure during the coronavirus pandemic and said the atmosphere on the wards is always tense.

Mel Kerr, 26, qualified in 2015 and has worked within emergency medicine nurse for the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust since then.

Mel, who previously had coronavirus, was one of the first to receive the Pfizer vaccine in Lincoln with her first dose on December 8 last year and the second on December 29 and personally feels “a bit more protected”.

At one point Mel felt like walking away, but she was determined to stay for her patients.

Mel told The Lincolnite: “I would say the experience has been incredibly varied initially especially in Lincolnshire as we are a rural community and the first wave, although busy, did not seem to be as catastrophically busy as it has been in the recent months during this second wave.

“The atmosphere on the wards is always tense and you can see how stressed and pressured everyone feels to provide the highest quality care possible despite what the situation is.”

The pressure has been intense and on Monday, January 18 she felt like she could have walked away from the stress of the pandemic, but was determined to stay for her patients.

Mel feels low staffing levels, with wards full of patients with acute and complex medical requirements, are making the situation even more challenging.

Mel qualified in 2015 and has been working at Lincoln County Hospital since.

Mel, who is from Warwickshire but has lived in Lincolnshire for eight years, said: “Monday is usually a busy day for our team anyway, but that day just took it to a whole new level. It was non-stop from 8am through to 6.30pm when I finished.

“I would normally have certain jobs to do, standard jobs within our team to complete in a timely manner, however I did not even get the chance to think about this list of jobs until 4.30pm, meaning I got very little done.

“I felt like I had failed in my duty of care, something I pride myself in very much, so to feel that way just really finished me off.

“I know from colleagues around the country, there are always chronic gaps in staffing, especially as there are 45,000 nursing vaccines alone in the NHS, 100,000+ in total across the professions, and this is something that the government has not improved in any way.

“If anything gets worse and you then add high sickness rates on top of this, then the system just collapses. If we cannot look after our own health adequately, how can we be expected to look after our patients adequately?

“I have experienced many more deaths than I usually would over a few shifts. It makes you feel like no matter what you do, you just cant do anything right.

“It is our nature as healthcare professionals to want to save everyone, and especially when some of these patients are a similar age to yourself, it’s shocking to the core to see these people deteriorate so rapidly despite your best efforts.

“And of course not all deaths are related to COVID, some are your ‘usual’ elderly, chronically unwell individuals but when you add this to others, this can have a significant impact on our mental health.”

Mel has lived in Lincolnshire for eight years.

Mel added that as a team, their redeployment, in addition to their usual rules, has been to do fit testing for all clinical staff for the new FFP3 masks.

Mel is also the lead grassroots campaigner for Lincolnshire for fair pay for all NHS workers ‘#NHSPay15’. She has been involved in the campaigning for around a year in her role as branch chair for North Lincolnshire at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). She was also elected as a member of the RCN East Midlands Council last month.

Work will begin to restore the pride in some of Gainsborough’s most visible buildings from May as part of a £2 million restoration project.

The Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) aims to restore the “historic heart of Gainsborough” by improving the standard of repair and reinstating the original appearance of properties within the town centre conservation area.

Buildings on Lord Street and on the Market Place will be restored.

Lord Street in Gainsborough in the 1800s (right) and a building on the street eligible in the scheme (right). | Photo: Gainsborough Heritage Centre/WLDC

Lord Street was originally called Pottergate and it was destroyed by a fire in 1774.

It was rebuilt by the lord of the manor at the time and was renamed Lord Street.

Many of the older shops in the Market Place were originally grand 18th century townhouses.

Market Place in Gainsborough in the 1920s (left) and a building on the street that is eligible to be restored (right). | Photo: Gainsborough Heritage Centre/WLDC

Theresa Workman, Townscape Heritage Activity Co-ordinator, said: “We are getting ready to begin our incredible opportunity, to restore the very heart of Gainsborough Town centre.

“By restoring pride in some of the town’s most visible buildings on the Market Place and on Lord Street, we want to bring the town back to its former glory – full of character and prospering, with residents’ pride in their local town centre renewed.

“On top of beginning the work to restore the buildings this year, we are committed to planning a range of fun activities to promote and enjoy the journey the town is about to go on.”

A programme of events for 2021 has been released by the team working on the scheme, which is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and delivered by West Lindsey District Council.

2021 event programme

The following events will take place subject to government restrictions and guidelines:

Merrye Olde Market on Lord Street – April 13

A historic street market with 12 stalls, Georgian dancers, vikings and more. Each stall will feature people in costume and celebrate links to Gainsborough’s history.

Beginning of development on listed buildings – May

There will be Historic Heart Boards explaining the history of the buildings scheduled to be restored and how they are going to be improved and restored over the next few months and years.

The team at THI will also soon be organising training with shop workers in town centre stores to learn and promote the heritage of Gainsborough.

College students and volunteers will also assisted with the project.

Heritage trails – summer

Downloadable and printed leaflets containing trails to follow that take in the sights and attractions of Gainsborough town centre will be launched in the summer of 2021.

Big Draw Event – September

The THI team will hold their own free Big Draw Event. Working with a local artist, residents will have the opportunity to create art work in an outdoor space, contributing to a large, displayed piece of artwork.

An incredibly rare 22 carat gold ‘Cadbury’s Conundrum’ egg from the 1980s will go on auction in Lincolnshire next month, three years after first being sold for over £20,000.

The egg was created in 1983 by the Queen’s official jeweller, Royal Goldsmiths Garrard & Co, as part of a nationwide Creme Egg treasure hunt contest.

It was the secretive prize at the end of the hunt, where 12 caskets containing a scroll were hidden across the country, but this one was an extra special 13th egg.

A closer look at the magnificent Conundrum egg. | Photo: Batemans of Stamford

It weighs 323.6g and was based on the front cover of the Don Shaw book in which the clues to the hunt were kept, depicting the book’s title, Conundrum.

The conundrum egg was first sold by Batemans of Stamford on July 1, 2017 for a then house record auction price of £17,200.

The total price paid was £20,640 when including the 20% buyer’s premium, way clear of the £10,000-£15,000 pre-estimates.

The owner had taken part in the egg hunt in the 1980s and couldn’t believe he was now the proud owner of this famous piece of history.

Sadly, he died in 2020 and the egg was inherited by his family, who have decided to part ways with it and allow Batemans to auction it off once more.

It will go under the hammer in an online only auction on Friday, February 19 in the late afternoon, as part of Bateman’s jewellery and watches, silver and gold sale.

The egg will come in its original box as part of the auction. | Photo: Batemans of Stamford

New pre-sale estimates judge the egg to be worth between £15,000-£20,000 and the lot comes with the egg’s original presentation box, as well as a copy of Conundrum, The Cadbury’s Creme Egg Mystery by Don Shaw.

Managing director at Batemans of Stamford, Greg Bateman, said: “It gives us enormous pleasure to offer this unique and spectacular golden egg once again at Batemans.

“We were greatly saddened to hear the original buyer had passed away, being as he was part of the rich history of our own auction house, and hope that we can do him proud in finding another lucky buyer who loved this spectacular egg as much as he did.”

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