A group of Filipino nurses are looking forward to a special reunion – 20 years after arriving in the UK and starting work at Walsall Manor Hospital.
Around 30 nurses, who arrived in England in October 2001, are attending a special meal at the Dine and Wine buffet restaurant in Walsall town centre on Wednesday, November 24.
Over two decades on, almost all of the nurses who came over are still working at the Manor.
Most have families and many are married – some to partners they were with when they came here, others to people they have met since being here.
But the majority of the group, who have had special T-shirts printed for the event emblazoned ‘20 years in the NHS’ have all made their home in Walsall.
Brought from the Philippines by Manor staff John Hopcroft (now retired), Mark Ingram and Matt Kelly, the nurses are still close and keep in touch via a private Facebook group.
Co-organiser Olivia Buerano, 46, a Staff Nurse on Ward 2, who has arranged the event with fellow Staff Nurse Fritzie Ruizo, 48, from Ward 15, says it’s been a challenge to try to get everyone together, but insists it will be worth all the effort.
“It will be lovely to see everyone again; we’re all looking forward to it,” said Olivia. “We normally try to get together every now and then but have been unable to do so for two years due to the pandemic.
“Most of us who are local are able to attend, as well as a few partners, and everyone wants to come, but it’s so hard to arrange something like this because of everyone’s shifts.
“I’d say around 90 per cent stayed at the Manor, which is a great achievement, and some went to work in the United States and Australia.”
Like their friends and colleagues, Olivia and Fritzie have carved out new lives, careers and families here.
“Around 80 per cent of us had partners when we came over, so we have all settled here and the other 20 per cent have settled with British partners,” added Olivia.
Olivia’s husband of 17 years Carlo, 44 – who was an electrical technician in the Philippines – is a Clinical Support Worker for The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust based at New Cross Hospital. They have daughter Charmine, 15, who wants to be a dentist and a son Cobi, 13, who wants to be a nautical engineer.
Richard, 46, Fritzie’s husband of 19 years, who was an architect at home, is a Dialysis Assistant based in the Dialysis Centre at the Manor. Their daughter Enya, 18, wants to be a solicitor and son Zack, 13, is a karate black belt and is keen to develop further in the sport.