Kimmy Eldridge, 1947-2010

November 4, 2010

An academic who played a key role in forging links between higher education and the NHS has died.

Kimmy Eldridge was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 8 August 1947.

She early acquired a lifelong habit of hard work by attending the prestigious Kuen Cheng High School for girls in the morning and an English-language school in the afternoon. Although her parents were keen for her to study Chinese literature, she decided instead to pursue a nursing career in the UK.

Advised to try the London Hospital, Professor Eldridge applied to the London Jewish Hospital by mistake. In the event, this turned out to be an excellent choice. A fairly small institution, it allowed her to gain more specialist training at Moorfields Eye Hospital and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. After a further course in intensive-care nursing at the London Hospital, she began her working life at Whipps Cross Hospital, followed by posts in Newmarket and Chelmsford.

In 1978, Professor Eldridge became a clinical teacher for the NHS in Colchester before being promoted to tutor and then senior tutor. She joined the University of Essex in 1994 to set up the Nursing and Health Studies Unit, which would later become the Health and Social Services Institute and eventually the School of Health and Human Sciences.

A leader in the advancement of nursing, Professor Eldridge established a pioneering MSc in advanced nursing practice and subsequently a professional doctorate scheme that anticipated the government's creation of nurse consultant posts.

She also sought innovative ways to address the national shortage of nurses through the UK's first graduate-entry accelerated pre-registration master's degree.

Her eminence within the field was recognised in 2003 when Professor Eldridge became one of the few nurses to be appointed a course organiser for GP training. She was also appointed OBE for services to healthcare in 2007.

Nigel South, pro vice-chancellor of Essex, described Professor Eldridge as "a teacher, researcher, innovator and entrepreneur" who "gave her time selflessly, always encouraging development and progress, and was a genuine inspiration to her students and colleagues.

"In everything she did, she demonstrated commitment to the best in public service values and to the value of the NHS and higher education partnership. At Essex, the busy, thriving School of Health and Human Sciences stands as testimony to her vision, enthusiasm and tireless hard work," Professor South said.

Professor Eldridge died of a brain haemorrhage on 6 October and is survived by her husband John and two sons.

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