Nursing leader Avril Devaney has been recognised for services to Nursing of People with Mental Health Problems and been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list.

Director of nursing, therapies and patient partnership at Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP), Avril said: “I am absolutely delighted to have my contribution recognised in this way. I have worked alongside many amazing people over the past 32 years who have inspired me to do all I can to improve opportunities and support for people experiencing mental health conditions to live full lives.

“I am privileged to work for an organisation that really cares about the people it provides services to and am grateful for the opportunities I have had to make a difference.”

Avril first received national recognition for her work in November 1999 with The Queen’s Nursing Institute Award for Innovation after establishing a mental health nursing service in police custody suites and is also recognised for addressing the harm to people with mental health conditions caused by smoking.

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She led work to make CWP the first smoke-free mental health trust in England and has also led its Challenging Stigma campaign since 2004.

Avril added: “Leading the work on smoking cessation has been one of the most challenging but rewarding areas of my work.

“To know that people with mental illness are now receiving the best possible support and will therefore live longer lives is brilliant and I’m glad to have been a part of this significant change in approach. I’m looking forward to continuing to contribute to improvements in care.”

Passionate about person-centred care and reducing health inequalities, Avril has been the trust’s link with mental health services at Kisiizi Hospital in Uganda since 2010 and was a founder of the Jamie Devaney Memorial Fund to support mental health services in Uganda and create a lasting legacy for her son Jamie, who died aged four following a short illness during a family holiday and fundraising trip there.

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She received an honorary MA in 2014 from the University of Chester in recognition of her outstanding contribution to healthcare.

In 2015 Avril was also recognised as a nursing times leader.

Chief executive at CWP Sheena Cumiskey said: “I am very proud of Avril’s achievement which highlights the importance of challenging the stigma in mental health and ensuring that people with mental health issues have equal opportunities to healthy and fulfilling lives.

“Avril is a valued member of the team at CWP and always reflects our values of compassionate care – on behalf of everyone and our partners we send our wholehearted congratulations.”