For more than 20 years, St Andrew’s emergency nurse, Heather, has given her time to caring for others, not just in hospital but on the rugby field too.
Playing to her strengths in sports injuries, in 2002, Heather’s sister encouraged her to apply for a volunteer role supporting the health and wellbeing of the players at The University of Queensland Rugby Club.
Every rugby season since then, Heather has given more than 20 hours a week of her own time to the club and to a volunteer role which extends well beyond its title.
“As head sports trainer, my role is to manage everything medical for the team. I order medical supplies, organise doctor coverage for games days, attend training and games to help with injury management, and the list goes on,” Heather said.
“Sometimes the hardest part of my job is getting the players off the field when they are injured and think they can keep playing. Learning to talk ‘teenage boy’ was also a steep learning curve!
“Over the years, the highlights for me have been watching the players go on to achieve bigger and better, whether that’s going on to play super rugby or another career path. I’m so proud of their achievements and I just get back so much more than I give,” she said.
With more than 22 years’ experience as an emergency nurse, for Heather, her two roles complement perfectly.
“We see a lot of sports injuries at the St Andrew’s Emergency Centre, so I’m able to bring my skills from emergency to the field and back again,” Heather said.
“Like the Emergency Centre, things can be unpredictable on the rugby field too. I enjoy the unpredictability and that within the chaos there is routine.”
Her unique skills and experience also led Heather to working on the sidelines with the Australian Wallabies and Queensland Reds for five years.
“Those years were a fantastic learning opportunity. Watching the Reds run out to a packed Suncorp Stadium, under the crushing noise of ‘the cauldron’, was just an amazing feeling,” she said.
Heather’s loyal commitment and dedication to supporting UQ Rugby was recognised in 2021 when she was awarded the club’s ultimate accolade.
“I’m the first non-player and first female to be awarded the honour of life member, and only the 14th person to achieve the award, with more than 110 years of club history,” Heather said.
“My name sits alongside other life members from the 50s and 60s, mostly former club presidents. Aside from giving me voting rights and bragging rights, it’s an absolute honour!”