A staff champion and mentor who always encouraged others to fulfil their potential but almost lost her own life has retired from Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust.
Barbara Emanuel, Workforce Department Manager, has left the organisation after 10 years but leaves a legacy of improving others.
The 64-year-old grandmother, who lives in Oxley, Wolverhampton, says her proudest achievement was implementing a development programme for junior non-clinical staff because of how it transformed them.
Barbara, whose son Dominic, 27, works in finance at Walsall Healthcare, said: “I started the course because I thought there was a lot of opportunities for managers but not for clerical workers.
“It opened their eyes – they realised they could do more and it improved their self-esteem, as well as their leadership and personal skills. To watch them grow in six months was wonderful.
“I see myself as a nurturer because people always need someone to go to, and I feel I am that person.”
She also led a senior nursing improvement programme and delivered four leadership conferences at Walsall FC’s Bescot Stadium for senior managers, doctors and consultants.
And, on a secondment to The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, she coached on the Master of Business Administration (MBA) postgraduate degree course.
Clair Bond, Deputy Director of People and Culture, said: “Barbara will undoubtedly be much missed. She was more or less single-handedly responsible for the Ward Managers’ development programme for new and emerging middle managers.
“Barbara didn’t just deliver a course and then leave it – people sought her out for advice and she gave it. Most recently she delivered a lot of coaching and support. She’s a trained mediator and is really helpful in supporting people work through problems.”
But Barbara, who is pictured with fellow retiring colleagues Linda Nicholls, Workforce Training Administrator (left), and Parm Chera-Japper, Staff Health and Wellbeing Clinical Manager, was relieved just to be able to work again after two major operations, one of which saw her life very much in the balance.
Six years ago, she had to be airlifted to Liverpool to undergo an 11-hour operation called an aortic dissection, a serious condition where a tear occurs in the inner layer of the aorta, the body’s main artery carrying blood from the heart. She was given just a two per cent chance of survival.
Then a year ago, Barbara had to have an aortic graft repair, where a tube supported by wires is inserted in the aorta to prevent an aneurysm (bulge in a blood vessel) from bursting.
Not surprisingly, her near-death experiences has given her a fresh perspective on life. “I’m grateful to be alive; I’ve had my life saved twice by the NHS,” she reflected.
“I feel that after these things happened, I really value what I’ve got, such as family and friends and I don’t take things for granted. I’m just going to enjoy life.”
Now she’s retired, Barbara plans to spend more time with her family, firstly with a trip to New York to see other son Richard, 39, a graphic designer, and grand-daughter Emelia, who turns five in May.
A trip to India to celebrate her 65th birthday has also been planned, while she wants to devote more time to her hobbies of making jam, lemon curd and home-made wine.