Professor Kimmy Eldridge, who died suddenly on 6 October, worked for more than 40 years in healthcare delivery and education and was a nationally recognised innovator in the field.
She joined the University of Essex in 1994 to establish its Nursing and Health Studies Unit and, through it, a new partnership between the University and the NHS.
Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1947, she trained in England as a critical care nurse, working in Whipps Cross Hospital, Newmarket and Chelmsford, before coming to Colchester in 1978, originally as Clinical Teacher and, subsequently Tutor and Senior Tutor.
Through her career, in which she was involved in the education of generations of nurses and health practitioners, Kimmy was committed to public service values and the partnership between the NHS and higher education institutions.
In 1994, she established the Nursing and Health Studies Unit at the University. It grew quickly to become, in 1997, the Health and Social Services Institute, and by 2002, the Department of Health and Human Sciences.
A leader in the advancement of nursing, she established a pioneering MSc in Advanced Nursing Practice and subsequently a Professional Doctorate scheme, anticipating the government’s creation of Nurse Consultant posts. Consistently she demonstrated the foresight to develop training programmes to ensure that professional practice kept abreast of myriad changes in healthcare policy and regulation.
Seeking new ways to meet the national shortage of nurses, Kimmy went on to develop the UK’s first graduate entry accelerated pre-registration masters degree in nursing at Essex. In 2003 she became one of the few nurses to be appointed as a Vocational Training Course organiser for GP training, a role almost always filled by GPs.
In January 2007 Kimmy was awarded the OBE for services to healthcare. Although she moved into semi-retirement in December 2008, she continued to teach part-time, at the University’s Southend Campus as programme lead on its foundation degree in Oral Health.
Kimmy served on numerous committees and was a valued listener and enabler for her academic and NHS colleagues. She gave her time generously and selflessly, always encouraging development and progress, and was an inspiration to her students and colleagues. At Essex, the busy, thriving School of Health and Human Sciences stands as testimony to her vision, enthusiasm and tireless hard work.
Kimmy was able to divide her time between work and family life. She loved cooking and gardening, and her love of Chinese literature continued throughout her life. In recent years she had spent more time in China where her expertise in healthcare had increasingly been sought by a number of universities.
She and her husband John had retired early in order to spend time with their three grandchildren in London. She is survived by John and their two sons, James and Peter.
Kimmy Eldridge’s funeral took place at 12 noon on Monday 25 October at the Church of St James the Great, East Hill, Colchester.
A memorial fund has been established in Kimmy Eldridge's name with a view to providing a scholarship for a registered nurse to carry out research related to nursing that develops professional practice and/or enhances the patient experience.