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Gold medal award for retired podiatrist from Wick

By Alan Hendry

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Sandra Jones with her award on the Cholmondeley Room terrace at the House of Lords.
Sandra Jones with her award on the Cholmondeley Room terrace at the House of Lords.

A retired podiatrist from Wick said it was "humbling" to receive a national award recognising her achievements in the profession.

Sandra Jones was presented with the Royal College of Podiatry's gold medal award at a ceremony in the House of Lords. It came half a century after she began her training.

Sandra retired in May 2022 as NHS Highland podiatry diabetes coordinator.

She was one of three gold medal award recipients from different parts of the UK who were honoured at the London event.

The award, which takes the form of a crystal trophy, is granted to an individual podiatrist "who has demonstrated excellence throughout their professional career" and given "outstanding service" over a sustained period.

"It was a pretty impressive event," Sandra said. "This year it's 50 years since I enrolled in the Edinburgh School of Chiropody. That's a lifetime for some people.

"The fact that colleagues from across Highland were the ones that nominated me was quite humbling, to be honest. I was just doing my job."

Sandra qualified from Edinburgh in 1976, working in Caithness, Doncaster and Staffordshire before returning to NHS Highland until her retirement.

In 2003 her role changed from being a generalist podiatrist to podiatry diabetes coordinator and she represented Highland on national diabetes working groups.

"I was the podiatry diabetes coordinator for all of Highland, including Argyll and Bute at one point," Sandra explained.

"First and foremost I was a podiatrist. In my mind, podiatry is a specialism because you are dealing with the lower limb. Now it's getting to the stage where podiatrists are specialising so they'll do diabetes, which is the route that I took, or MSK [musculoskeletal], and there are podiatrists specialising in vascular services, or in dermatology.

"There are some who specialise in forensics, so you are specialising within a specialism. There is such a lot that can go wrong."

Sandra lives in Wick with husband Bernie.

The gold medal award citation states that Sandra was "passionate about training and was involved with in-house seminars, diabetes events, University of Highlands and Islands courses and the Virtual Diabetes Foot Education Network".

She was also described as a valued member of the Scottish Diabetes Foot Action Group who was "always advocating equal consideration for active foot disease and high-risk caseloads in rural areas of the Highlands".

The gold award is for someone who has made "a significant and sustained impact in improving the quality of life of patients, who has excelled at and surpassed the responsibilities and requirements of their professional/clinical role" and "provided consistent, sustained and effective leadership at branch level in the UK".

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