A young Dundee woman driven to anorexia by bullies who mocked her disability has been named Inspirational Nurse of the Year.
Bobbie Lafferty, 24, from Ardler, was given the honour from Dundee University as she graduated as a nurse on Friday at a ceremony in the Caird Hall.
After graduating, Bobbie said she was so grateful and excited and spoke of her pride at being given the award in recognition of qualifying despite her severe health challenges.
Bobbie, whose lifelong dream was to become a nurse, was diagnosed with an overgrowth syndrome when she was only five months old.
Bullying at school
It has affected her all her life, resulting in her being bullied at school.
Bobbie was diagnosed with Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome — a condition characterised by an increased risk of childhood cancer and certain congenital features.
For Bobbie, it caused the limbs on her right-hand side to grow quicker than the rest of her body and affected her tongue. It also caused the organs on the right-hand side of her body to become enlarged.
She has endured 17 operations on her right leg and has spent most of her life wearing a plaster cast, something which made high school especially challenging.
Dream of nursing
Bobbie explained she left school with few qualifications and was discouraged from pursuing her dreams of mental health nursing.
She refused to give up, however, and after attending college she joined the Mental Health Nursing BSc course at Dundee University.
Bobbie said: “I’ve always wanted to be a nurse since the NHS and medical staff have been so incredibly supportive of me throughout my childhood. I want to give back what has been given to me.
“High school was a really difficult time for me and I struggled a lot with my mental health. I was told that I should give up on my dreams of nursing because of my conditions but I didn’t want them to hold me back.”
Bobbie said she was very grateful to the mental health nursing team at the university.
She said: “They’ve been so accommodating and encouraging throughout my three years of study.
“Being able to adjust my placement dates to accommodate for illness was a real gift and has allowed me to achieve my full potential. I’m so excited to be graduating with my peers.”
Bobbie was nominated by Jaqueline Eccles, a lecturer in the university’s School of Health Sciences, who said, “Despite her disabilities, Bobbie has strived, succeeded and evidenced making a positive difference to individuals and their carers’ lives.
“She enhances the reputation of nursing by demonstrating the value of having lived experience of a disability when providing care.
“Despite Bobbie’s physical challenges and the mental toll these undoubtedly take, Bobbie graduated with the rest of her class.
“This is a considerable achievement and down to Bobbie’s commitment, passion for nursing, and sheer hard work.”
Jacqueline added: “The team have never heard Bobbie complain — indeed she is better known for her thought-provoking insights and enquiring mind in class.
“I believe Bobbie will go on to be an outstanding registrant, demonstrating empathy, compassion, and commitment to her patients as she has to her studies.”
Bobbie has continued to battle against adversity throughout her studies. She developed an autoimmune disorder known as Henoch-Schönlein Purpura (HSP) at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This delayed her final placement as she was required to undergo surgery. Not only did Bobbie go on to complete that placement, but she was one of the many nursing students who took to the frontline at the height of the pandemic to help the NHS.
Bobbie is one of over 2,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students to receive their degrees and diplomas at Caird Hall this week.