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 was born and brought up in Lancashire and became a registered mental health nurse in 1983.
She 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. 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.
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.
When her own four-year-old son Jamie died during a family holiday and fundraising trip to Uganda, Avril helped to set up the Jamie Devaney Memorial Fund to support mental health services in the country.
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.
Sheena Cumiskey, chief executive at CWP, 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 whole hearted congratulations.”