Anne Gilbey RN began nursing in 1977 at the Royal Brisbane Hospital and had been a member of the Coffs Harbour Health Campus (CHHC) surgical ward community since 1997.
Anne had many passions, including orthopaedic nursing, horses and all animals in general.
Monday and Tuesday were her regular rostered days off. Her routine on Monday began with a 10km jog with one of her dogs (even in the pouring rain; she was known not to wear any rain gear while jogging, but the dog did!), then off to Baringa Private hospital for the Monday morning trauma meeting in her own time with the orthopaedic team. This was followed by volunteer work at the RSPCA, followed by volunteer time in fracture clinic in the afternoon (because she had a passion to learn how to plaster, suture and learn) before going home to look after her animals.
When her children were at school, Anne also volunteered in the school canteen. Anne had a graduate certificate in orthopaedic nursing, a graduate certificate in acute care nursing and a graduate diploma in health science/orthopaedic nursing.
Anne missed out on a CNS2 position in orthopaedics (it was never offered at our hospital) so for a week she was in despair. Then she thought “stuff it – I’ll do my nurse practitioner”. Her nurse practitioner and master’s notes were plastered all over her bathroom. She would have completed it by the end of the year.
Anne was the chief organiser of our first, very successful, orthopaedic education night, and it was one of her dreams to hold a full orthopaedic conference at one of the local resorts.
Anne was a very active participant in the Coffs Harbour equestrian club and was active in Parelli horsemanship activities. If she had no time in the day to ride her horses she had been known to get out the saddle blanket and just sit on one of her “babies”.
She loved camping in the beautiful national parks surrounding Coffs Harbour and once brought an injured Tawny Frogmouth bird to work on night-duty, to nurture it overnight in our tutorial room, before delivering it to WIRES the next day.
She spent most of her income on vet bills, taking in strays and other people’s horses that needed nursing back to health.
During her adult life she had been active in the surf club, the SES and the Army Reserves. If there was an activity out there, Anne was going to give it a go. She was a karate black belt, an avid lover of the bush and the beach; a true outdoor girl.
She lost her first baby at term and would support anyone else in the same situation, bringing in books and support information, to help them cope with their grief.
Anne was a terrible patient. Once, a horse bucked her and she was a patient on our ward for some weeks. The trick was to try and keep her on bed rest; a task most of us failed at.
The student nurses loved being with her and she had a great working relationship with the physiotherapists on our ward (who are also a big part of our ward family). Anne frequently gave staff in-services as well.
Anne was a long time NSWNA member and was thrilled that “scrubs” were finally going to be our NSW Health uniform.
Anne had a zest for life few could match. Her husband Mark said she was “like margarine – she spread herself thin”. Anne loved being a mum. She loved to socialise with her group of friends and she was a big part of the Orara community.
On the day of her memorial gathering we celebrated her life at her beautiful farm. The day was happy and sad. All the groups that Anne was a part of helped to cater. The dogs and horses were all there. Prayer flags adorned the driveway. You just felt Anne’s presence all around on that day. She was a Buddhist and quietly went about doing good things for “all creatures great and small” in her life.
Anne leaves behind a husband, Mark, and two sons, Jack and Sam, and a big hole in the heart of her family, her friends and her colleagues. She will be sadly missed.— Mandy Short RN, surgical ward CHHC
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