‘Africa’s fastest woman’ bids farewell to her nursing career after five decades at UK hospital


Former international sprinter and renowned NHS nurse Matron Rose Amankwaah, once described as the “fastest woman in Africa,” is bidding farewell to her nursing career after nearly 50 years of service.

Representing Ghana at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, the theatre matron began her journey with the NHS in 1975, shortly after her athletic pursuits at the Munich 1972 Olympics.

Amankwaah, fondly known as Matron Rose during her tenure, dedicated her entire nursing career to Central Middlesex Hospital in London, according to Sky News. She was initially granted weekends off to pursue her athletic training. The Ghanaian athlete excelled in numerous prestigious competitions such as the Africa Games, Commonwealth Games, and the Olympics. She won a bronze medal at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand.

Amankwaah, who migrated to England in 1974 at the age of 22, embarked on her nursing journey shortly after her arrival. Beginning as a staff nurse, she steadily climbed the ranks to eventually become the theatre matron at Central Middlesex Hospital in London.

Her exceptional dedication and contributions to healthcare were recognized last year when she was honored with the NHS Silver Medal Award by England’s chief nurse, Dame Ruth May.

She said: “I’m happy that I’m going to have some time with my family but I have been in this hospital all my life, so retirement feels like losing something – you’re part of the furniture, and all of a sudden you are not going to be,” as reported by the BBC.

“But I’m so happy that I have achieved what I want to achieve.”

She noted that during her stint in the theatres, she witnessed major advances in surgery – with most procedures being “open” when she started, followed by a shift to laparoscopic, or keyhole, surgery and now widespread use of robotic surgery.

As she prepares for retirement, Matron Rose’s first destination is Ghana to visit her 87-year-old sister, with several other holidays planned. Retirement will also allow her to watch the Paris Olympics in the summer.

Reflecting on her sprinting career, she recalled starting running in 1958 during her secondary school years in Ghana.

“I started representing Ghana with a high jump but then a coach came to me and said they would like to train me in 100m and 200m races.”

A London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust spokesperson said: “The NHS is all about people and we’ll all miss Rose when she goes. She is a great nurse and personality and, after 49 years, still knows how to set the pace and run the race.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 11, 2024


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