A WEE COUNTY health visitor has been given the prestigious title of Queen's Nurse following a ceremony in Edinburgh last week.

Margaret-Ann Williamson was selected earlier this year to take part in a nine-month development programme run by the Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS).

The team leader for Clackmannanshire was nominated by managers at NHS Forth Valley and, after completing the programme, was formally awarded the historic designation on Thursday, November 29.

It marks only the second time the honour has been made in Scotland in almost 50 years following the reintroduction of the historic title in 2017.

Margaret-Ann, who is based at Clackmannanshire Community Health Care Centre, was selected for her commitment to making a real difference for families through early intervention and additional support.

She said: "I was told when I started in health visiting that you are part of the most important journey of people's lives, and I still believe that.

"Playing a role in the community where you help parents at the very beginning of their journey as a family is something I have always got great fulfilment from.

"Being part of the Queen's Nurse programme was an amazing experience as it brought together a group of passionate people who want to make a difference."

Queen's Nursing in Scotland dates back to the late 19th century, when nurses completed specific training which allowed them to work as district nurses.

They provided healthcare and health promotion to people in their own homes and became well respected figures within their community.

Following the introduction of a national certificate for district nursing, QNIS ceased training, awarding the Queen's Nurse title for the final time in 1969.

However, the decision was made to reintroduce Queen's Nurses to Scotland in 2017, with 20 community nurses chosen to take part in a development programme which would see them become the first modern Queen's Nurses.

The process involves employers nominating a community-based nurse who will go forward for interview following a successful written application.

Clare Cable, QNIS chief executive and nurse director, said: "The development programme was designed to ensure that values of Queen's Nurses of the past can be translated to meet the demands of leadership of nursing in the community in the future.

"The 2018 Queen's Nurses really demonstrate the diversity of roles within community nursing in Scotland.

"They all uphold nursing excellence and bring a firm commitment to make a real difference to the lives of the people they work with.

"The Queen's Nurse programme has resulted in a truly transformational journey for those involved and they should all be very proud to have been awarded the title."

This year, 21 community nurses were selected to complete the nine-month programme which consists of a week-long residential workshop followed by two further workshops and coaching sessions in between.

The programme requires them to choose an issue for development which will have a significant impact on those they care for, so that the learning during the nine months is applied in practice.

Other community nurses in the group include an offshore medic, a Diana Children's Nurse, Advanced Nurse Practitioners and a multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease specialist.

Each nurse was presented with a certificate and badge by Professor Fiona McQueen, Scotland's chief nursing officer, at the awards ceremony at The Principal Edinburgh on George Street hotel.

Prof McQueen said: "Scottish nurses support the people of Scotland across all walks of life.

"This year's Queen's Nurses exemplify all that is good about nursing and nurses; supporting people at their time of greatest need and reaching out to people who often struggle to access services.

"Our Queen's Nurses are ambassadors for nursing and truly inspirational."