Identifying as British Caribbean (Jamaica and Barbados), all four of Nicole’s grandparents came to Britain in 1955 as part of the Windrush generation. The British government invited West Indians to work for the new National Health Service and help rebuild post-war Britain.
‘My grandmothers worked as auxiliary nurses and my grandfathers worked as a bus conductor and a carpenter. All of them experienced racism in some form, but with determination to have a better life. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here today. My grandmothers are now 80 and 90 years old.’
Growing up in Birmingham, Nicole first applied to become a paramedic at the age of 18, but was told she lacked adequate experience. Instead she went on to qualify as a nurse, a role Nicole says ‘I absolutely love, but I still felt like something was missing’. So, Nicole applied for a second time and began her paramedic training in March 2020.
One of Nicole’s proudest moments was when her experience as a cardiology nurse and her additional study, was put into practice as a trainee paramedic. Dealing with her first heart attack patient, Nicole was able to remain calm and reassure the patient by explaining each stage of the treatment. ‘I felt like my hard work and understanding was recognised during this time’.
The biggest challenges that Nicole has faced include dealing with an unexpected death from suicide, children, accidents and patients with no medical history. Nicole explains ‘trying to get my head around why and not having answers is hard, but I have learnt to accept it for what it is, accept that I did everything that I could and reflect on what I could do differently next time’. Situations like this remind Nicole ‘that life can be short, so I try my best to enjoy life to the fullest’.
Nicole loves meeting new people every day, learning about their lives and how they differ from others she has met. Each day is a new challenge and Nicole is always learning. She has to drive in emergency conditions, remaining calm and focused on the task ahead.
In the future, Nicole would love to combing her nursing with her paramedic career by doing a master’s course or prescribing to become an advanced practitioner. Nicole would like to travel the world, not only to appreciate the NHS, but to learn new skills and observe different medical practices.
As the nation’s largest Armed Forces charity, the Royal British Legion (RBL) is dedicated to ensuring that all those who served and sacrificed, and who continue to do so, in defence of our freedoms and way of life, from both Britain and the Commonwealth, are remembered.
In our acts of Remembrance, the RBL remembers,
- The sacrifice of the Armed Forces community from Britain and the Commonwealth.
- Pays tribute to the special contribution of families and of the emergency services.
- Acknowledges the innocent civilians who have lost their lives in conflict and acts of terrorism.
The story of Black British and Black African and Caribbean service and sacrifice is one that we are keen to share, a story of men and women who have done so much in defence of Britain and in protecting all our citizens. A story that is replete with stories of bravery and courage, as epitomised by Victoria Cross winner Johnson Beharry.
Therefore, to mark 100 years since Britain’s current Remembrance traditions first came together, the RBL has bought together over 100 stories of British and Commonwealth African and Caribbean service and sacrifice. The stories range from the First World War to the present day and are of servicemen and women from across Britain, Africa and the Caribbean, representing both the armed forces and emergency services.
The RBL wishes to offer special thanks to Stephen Bourne for his help in putting these stories together. Stephen Bourne has been writing Black British history books for thirty years. For Aunt Esther’s Story (1991) he received the Raymond Williams Prize for Community Publishing. His best-known books are Black Poppies (2019) and Under Fire (2020). His latest book Deep Are the Roots – Trailblazers Who Changed Black British Theatre was recently published by The History Press. For further information about Stephen and his books, go to his website www.stephenbourne.co.uk