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40th Anniversary Conference: Cardiff University's contribution to Nursing and Midwifery Research, Education and Practice

Saturday 19th May 2012

The School celebrated its 40 year history this month by hosting a Gala Dinner and Conference, reuniting alumni, past and current staff.

From four members of staff and just 10 students in the first cohort of the course back in 1972, the School has grown to over 150 members of staff, with more than 1,700 current students in 2012. The anniversary celebrations gave us the chance to reflect on the development of nursing and midwifery education within the School over the past four decades, but also to look forward and consider the contribution we have yet to make.


After the Gala Dinner that took place on Friday evening, the celebrations continued with our 40th Anniversary Conference. Despite a slightly wet start, by mid morning the sun was shining, and over 100 delegates had arrived to participate in the conference. 

A free of charge, all day event, the aim of the conference was to showcase the School’s achievements over the years, as well as look to the School’s role in the future of nursing and midwifery.  As well as many alumni, current and former members of staff, delegates included NLIAH’s Head of Workforce Development, Stephen Griffiths, the Director of RCM Wales, Helen Rogers, and the RCN’s Associate Director Martin Semple.

Professor Christine Chapman

The conference programme was extremely varied and engaging. After Professor Hunt opened the event with a warm welcome to all the delegates, Professor Chapman set the tone with an inspirational account of the challenges she faced in setting up the School; finding lecturers willing to teach her nursing students just one of the struggles she encountered. The story of her success was surprisingly moving and the spontaneous standing ovation she received after her presentation was demonstrable of the high regard in which she was held by all present.

Applause for CC

Professor Danny Kelly’s presentation placed the history of the School within the wider context of the history of nursing. This was then perfectly balanced by Professor Kate Gerrish’s personal account of her journey from the second cohort of the Cardiff BN, through professional practice and into academia.

The School’s Professor Billie Hunter and Polly Ferguson from the Welsh Government provided a whistle-stop tour of midwifery over the past 40 years, their descriptions of changes in both policy and practice inevitably revealing social shifts in attitudes to midwives, mothers and childbirth.

Jerry and Omani visitors

Hamood Mohammad al-Kharusi then gave a fascinating presentation about the evolution of nursing and health care in Oman. Describing the great strides the Ministry of Health are making within the profession, the Director General of Education and Training paid tribute to the role the School is playing in this evolution, and the importance of the collaboration he was cementing during his visit.

After lunch, Cardiff staff and students and colleagues from local health boards gave a series of presentations as part of our concurrent sessions, before Chief Nursing Officer Professor Jean White delivered the final plenary session. Titled ‘Where Next?’ Professor White’s presentation outlined some of the health care challenges facing nurses and midwives of the future and external pressures affecting the profession. Highlighting the importance of education and research to developing evidence-led, high quality care, the role the School can play in meeting these challenges and pressures was clear.


Rounding off the event with a glass of wine and some canapés in the impressive new Cochrane building, delegates were enthused by the opportunity the event had provided to re-engage with the School. The sense of being part of something important clearly stays with students and staff even after their formal ties with the School are over, and we are excited by the potential this creates for an annual event or lecture designed to maintain those informal links.

The celebration events were a successful way to celebrate the School’s history, and our thanks to everyone who contributed their time and effort to make this happen.

With thanks to our Conference Sponsors, Blackwell's, Wolters Kluwer and Cengage Learning:

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