GROWING up, all Sara Goode wanted to do was be like her mother and grandmother.

Both had dedicated their lives to helping and caring for the sick.

“I always wanted to be a nurse,” she said - but she has done a lot more than just keep up the family tradition.

Nurses across Wales work tirelessly to ensure our sick are cared for. Their commitment is inspiring - as is their willingness often to go above and beyond what they are paid to do - and Mrs Goode, from Pontypool, is one of those who regularly does just that.

She is the Lead Nurse for Emergency Planning at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. It is easy for a person’s true work to be hidden by a complicated job title, but put simply, Mrs Goode is responsible for ensuring that when emergencies occur, nurses are prepared.

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This might sound all rather straightforward, but training nurses to remain calm enough under pressure to enact the procedures and steps they must follow is no small task.

More specifically, Mrs Goode has created a bespoke training course for dealing with pre-hospital major incidents.

Nurses now know how to run a “casualty clearing station”, allowing ambulance service staff and paramedics more free time to treating patients at the scene of an incident.

When every minute counts in responding to emergencies, such work is vital.

Her programme has now been adopted across the whole of south Wales and has had a profound impact on major incident preparedness.

A faculty of 12 trainers has been established and more than 270 emergency nurses have been trained.

Some things, though, you just cannot plan for.

When snow descended on south Wales in winter 2018, bringing much of the region to a standstill, Mrs Goode was on hand to help make sure crucial health services were maintained.

While many of us were out enjoying the wintery cascade, Mrs Goode was busy at the Royal Gwent Hospital staying on site for a number of days without going home, choosing instead to stay overnight.

And it was her co-ordination and planning that meant a fleet of 4x4 vehicles was secured, alongside volunteers, to safely transport stranded doctors, nurses and staff to hospital.

It is why it might come as no surprise that Mrs Goode opened a letter in late December that was signed by the Queen.

Her dedication to the NHS was to be recognised with a British Empire Medal.

Yet her humility stopped her from ever thinking she deserved such a prestigious honour.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” she said.

“I was in total shock.

“I opened the letter and I was just shaking.

“I was just repeating: ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe it.' I had goosebumps.”

And The BEM was not the only honour she earned in 2019, for in November, she won the Royal College of Nursing Wales Nurse of the Year Award for Innovation.

Mrs Goode also manages and teaches the Medical Emergency Response Incident Team Course (MERIT) across south Wales, which is an on-call system which ensures international events held in Gwent can pass off safely.

UEFA football matches, the 2014 NATO summit, and a host of other high-profile events have benefitted from Mrs Goode’s input.

These are the unseen procedures which are vital in ensuring Gwent can hold such important and influential events.

And as the flu season is just beginning to wrap its tendrils around an unsuspecting public, Mrs Goode’s work in providing the flu jab for the most vulnerable in society should also be noted.

She is described by her health board as a “one-woman machine in delivering huge numbers (of vaccinations) annually”.

It is little wonder why she is respected throughout NHS Wales.

Still, she has designs on improving the service the NHS provides. She wants her casualty-clearing programme to be adopted throughout Wales and is passionate about introducing it to Scotland.

And fittingly, her advice was central in the re-design of the new emergency department and entrance at the Royal Gwent Hospital - for the Royal Gwent is where it all began.

In 1988, she began her NHS career there and was thrust straight into the accident and emergency department.

She does concede that the “pressure then was nothing like it is now”.

She said she “couldn’t wait to tell her family” after she received her honours letter.

But strict confidentiality laws mean she could only tell her husband, who was “really proud” of her.

“It is a big honour and I am very proud,” she said.