WSSC Alumni Keyworker Heroes
Friday 24th April 2020

Here is just a small selection of some of Wickersley Schools Alumni who are supporting us as a community and people throughout the country as keyworkers on the front line, fighting this pandemic.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our article so far and we look forward to celebrating so many more next week!

Caitlin Deakin

Caitlin’s story shows how it takes a lot of different roles and people to keep things operational. We are proud of all the key work that our ex-students are involved in.

“I left Year 11 Wickersley in 2016, and I now work as an administrator for the Clinical Commissioning Group in North Kirklees. As an administrator, it’s sometimes difficult to see the direct effect of the work you’re doing when you have no patient contact. During this time, I can’t help but feel a little helpless, not being able to be hands-on with patients and people who need care.

However, the team that I work with are currently responsible for heading NHS staff Coivd-19 testing in Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield, and are setting up “hot sites” and hubs that test, treat and triage symptomatic people. We also have an enormous focus on care within residential care homes, supporting elderly and vulnerable individuals at this time, working on ways to make them safer and constantly improve their care.

Without the work that I and many other administrators do, some jobs and successes within the NHS just would not be possible. So, although it’s easy to feel really far-removed from it all right now, I am proud of myself and my fellow NHS administration colleagues for all their tireless work, supporting the wider picture, and being a vital cog that keeps the NHS machine going!”

Katie Staniforth

“I attended the school from 2000 to 2005 and I was Katie Walker back in secondary years. I currently work full time as an early years practitioner and special educational needs and disabilities coordinator at a private nursery in Worksop, I have been there for six years and am currently working on the front line due to the coronavirus pandemic providing childcare for other critical key workers.

Thank you Wickersley for making this feel like it’s a worthwhile cause and I hope to portray to many students that studying pays off in the end.”

Caitlin Deakin - Clinical Commissioning Group Administrator
Katie Staniforth - Early Years Practitioner & SENCO
Vickie Walker - Senior Carer
Craig Batham - Volunteer Deputy Chief, South Yorkshire Police

Vickie Walker

“I attended Wickersley Comprehensive school as it was then, from 1983 to 1988. I always wanted to work with children, but after placement in a care home, I realised that I wanted to work and care for the elderly, I loved hearing their life stories and I loved how they liked my out of tune singing. After caring for my Nannan I wanted to carry on that care with others, those whose families were not in a position to care full time for them.

At present I work as a senior carer in a local care home, which includes administering medication, working alongside professionals, running a 12-hour shift. During this awful time, we have been on lockdown which means to reduce the risk of COVID-19, no family members are allowed in, essential professionals only. We have made sacrifices in our personal lives to protect our residents and each other. We work on keeping spirits high, putting our own fears to one side. We facetime and ring family members, make birthdays and anniversaries as much fun as we can.

On my days off I have been going into work to do our resident’s hair in the salon that we have to give them a pamper and some kind of normality.

We have pulled together as a family and lift each other up, I am so proud to do my job, and be part of a very caring team. We are faced with end of life and support families with dignity and compassion which is so difficult at the best of times, but at present is extra heartbreaking. Every care worker whether in homes or community are worth their weight in gold and much much more.”

Craig Batham

“I left Wickersley School in 2003 after completing my sixth form studies. I’m currently employed as an operations manager for a business based in Leeds for my day job and have recently been placed on furlough due to the pandemic.

However, I also volunteer with South Yorkshire Police as a Deputy Chief of the Special Constabulary and am now giving my full time to support the police during this crisis.”

Erin Mae Deakin

“I left Wickersley in 2016 after completing my A levels and I am now a third-year student midwife at Sheffield Hallam University and I will be fully qualified this September. I do my training at Barnsley hospital where I have been so fortunate to be able to bring (to date) 42 happy and healthy babies into the world!

Although the university is closed, I am very much still working on the frontline on the maternity wards doing 12-hour shifts and I have signed up to join the maternity workforce which will enable me to complete my degree in time but also to support all of the other amazing midwives who are under immense pressure during this scary time.

If it wasn’t for my lovely health and social care teacher, Miss Cooke, then I doubt I would be where I am today! Miss Cooke taught me from year 10 – 13 and supported me massively through my university application/interview and wrote me a glowing reference. I have been in awe of her compassion towards students and it has shaped the way I care for others in my career- she is amazing!

Working on the frontline during this pandemic is frightening but caring for new mum’s and their babies at this time is something I wouldn’t change for the world!”

Laura and John Oakes

“Both myself and my husband went to Wickersley, John left in 2005 and is now a landfill business manager and I left in 2006 and I’m an oncology nurse.

I went to Lincoln University and studied adult nursing, it was hard with four children but we both wanted careers so pushed through it.

John finished school on July 5th, it was his birthday July 6th and he started his new job on July 7th.  He worked his way up from being a site operative on the local tips, went on to become a team leader, then supervisor, then two years ago took the plunge and applied for a senior management role and got it. He’s worked for the same company all along, just worked his way up the ladder studying at the same time. He already had GCSEs but did work-based studies with a Level 4 Diploma in Hazardous Waste Transfer, Treatment and then Hazardous Waste Landfill, IOSH Managing Safely, Institute of Leadership and Management Levels 2, 3 & 5 and various plant tickets. Our desire to do our kids proud without any family support was what drove us to do the best we can.

My sisters went to Wickersley too, Jessica is a support worker for adults with learning disabilities and Katie is a carer at Silverwood care home.”

Thank you, Laura, John, Jessica and Katie for all that you are doing for us as key workers – especially in the current pandemic.

Erin Mae Deakin - Third Year Student Midwife
Laura and John Oakes - Oncology Nurse and Landfill Business Manager
Kirsty O'Brien - Midwife
Bryony Carpenter - Support Worker

Kirsty O’Brien

“I attended Wickersley Comprehensive School between 1993 and 1998. I currently work for The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust within the Poplar Continuity of Care Midwifery Team. We are a team of nine midwives who provide care for women during pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period. I am the named midwife at Wickersley Health Centre and the majority of the women I care for live in the Wickersley area.

Between the nine of us we provide 24-hour care for our women, which can be challenging at times, but even more so at the moment when we are faced with the added responsibility of keeping our women – and ourselves – safe from this virus.

Baby’s will continue to be born regardless of what’s going on in the outside world; However, what should be an exciting time for families is now clouded with an element of fear and uncertainty, particularly as they are isolated from family members and friends who would have normally been their support following baby’s arrival and therefore our role as Midwives is now more important than ever.

We want to reassure women and their families that everyone in Poplar Team, and at Rotherham Maternity are ready and waiting to take care of you and your baby and that we will strive to make this momentous occasion memorable and special for you all at this difficult time.”

Bryony Carpenter

“I’m writing this to acknowledge my sister Bryony who started in 2008 and finished her time at Wickersley in 2013. Bryony loved Performing Arts at her time at Wickersley especially working and learning with Miss Toop (now Mrs Mason) in the Drama department. Bryony now works as a support worker for vulnerable individuals with complex needs and works hard shifts around the clock to ensure their safety and happiness during these challenging times as well as everyday life. We’re all proud of Bryony and she deserved much praise for her daily efforts to put others before herself.”

Sam – Bryony’s brother

“Bryony is a carer for people aged 18 upwards with special needs such as Autism. She is working constantly through this difficult time and has a little boy of her own. Now as a mother I am very very scared for my daughter and her family but on the other hand, I am so so proud of her dedication and commitment not only to her job but to the patients she is caring for. She loves her job and says these people need her so she will be there for them. My thoughts go out to all the mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers out there that worry the same as I do but are so proud of their daughters or sons who attended your school. STAY SAFE, STAY HOME.”

Deborah – Bryony’s mum

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