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Retirement for the longest serving mental health nursing director

Posted on September 2019 By James Southwell

Avril Devaney

​She’s decided to hang up her hat after having been a director for an impressive 17 years, making her the longest lasting mental health nursing director up until now.

Avril Devaney has been the director of nursing, therapies and patient partnership at Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust for the better part of 17 years out of a total 36 years as a nurse, however she’s finally decided to retire after being announced the longest standing mental health director in England. Her incredible dedication began in Lancashire 1983, when Avril became inspired by a family member with learning disabilities and decided she would go on to start her training to help those affected neurologically.

During her time since starting, Avril worked in a multitude of different clinical settings around Lancashire and went on to receive a Queen’s Nursing Institute Award in 1999 for innovation after she established a mental health nursing service in police custody suites. Followed shortly by when she decided to make her home at the CWP NHS Trust as the director of nursing, therapies and patient partnership in 2002, this became a place where she was able to establish herself as an important figure in fighting health inequalities like harm to people with mental disabilities caused by smoking.

In 2010, Avril went on to be a prominent figure in the CWP’s connection to mental health services at Kisiizi Hospital in Uganda and became a founder of the Jamie Devaney Memorial Fund to support mental health services in Uganda. She set the ground to create a legacy for her late son Jamie, who unfortunately passed away during a family holiday and fundraising trip to the country.

Later on in life Avril was once again commended for all efforts and commitment to the healthcare field when in 2014, she received an honorary MA from the University of Chester and the following year she became recognised as a Nursing Times leader. Finally before retiring from a lifetime of hard work, Avril was praised with an MBE for “services to Nursing of People with Mental Health Problems” in 2016 and during 2019 in April with the Chief Nursing Officer’s Gold Award.

‘I’ve enjoyed a long and fulfilling career and will always be grateful for having the opportunities to make a difference’ is how Avril Devaney looks back on her career