A NURSE from Durham stars in a new M&S campaign appearing in stores across the country to help raise funds for NHS Charities Together.

Suzanne Vickers, 49, is a matron for palliative and end-of-life care at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and is one of four nurses to feature in the campaign.

Their stories about how NHS Charities Together has provided support during the Covid-19 crisis are being shared in stores throughout August.

M&S stores across County Durham and Darlington have been raising funds over the last few months and customers have already raised more than £32,000 for NHS Charities Together.

All of the money raised for NHS Charities Together goes towards helping local communities and North-East based NHS charity County Durham and Darlington NHS Charitable Trust is one of a number of recipients of recent donations.

Thanks to iPads provided by the money donated to NHS Charities Together, Suzanne’s patients, who were receiving end-of-life care, were able to stay connected to their loved ones during lockdown using video calling.

Suzanne, of Gilesgate, Durham, said: “Covid-19 patients often decline rapidly, and visiting restrictions mean they can’t be with their relatives.

"The iPads have made a massive difference in connecting patients to family members, pets and even sights and sounds that provoke happy memories.

"We had one patient in hospital who said goodbye to his son using the iPad. His son was sitting in the back garden, so he was able to listen to the birds, one of his favourite sounds, one last time.

"There are 30 amazing palliative care nurses in my team, and seeing them with their relatives has given comfort to families – knowing someone is with their loved one at the end of their life.

"We’ve seen people who’d been married for 60, 70 years saying goodbye, and we could reassure them: ‘I’ll sit with her, she won’t die by herself.’

"We feel privileged to do this job, to know we make a difference.”

Andrew Crooks, head of region for M&S North East, said: “County Durham and Darlington Trust plays an essential role supporting the community and we can’t thank them enough for their incredible efforts over the past few months. The donations raised so far at our stores have already done so much to support patients and their loved ones through these challenging times, and we look forward to raising more funds this month with our customers’ support.”