Obituary - Nicky Harris, former Medical Director, Little Bridge House, Devon and Charlton Farm Children's Hospice, Bristol
Posted on 10th January 2024
Our dear colleague, Nicky Harris, died on 3rd November 2023 following a short illness. She leaves her husband, Andy and her children, Tim, Simon and Max; her proudest achievements.
As one of the early UK pioneers of paediatric palliative care, many of us feel very grateful to have ‘grown up’ professionally under Nicky’s wings. Nicky worked as a Paediatric Oncology Associate Specialist at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton before leading a newly established community paediatric palliative care service in Somerset. In 2007 she moved to Children’s Hospice South West, working at Little Bridge House in Devon and at Charlton Farm Children’s Hospice in Bristol as their Medical Director.
Nicky was one of a small group of committed professionals who set up the Children’s Palliative Care Network for the Southwest in 2002. Their vision – to create a group that enables interested individuals to connect with each other, to share good practice and challenges, to support research and the development of a growing evidence base and to influence policy and strategy development led to the creation of a group that still thrives today.
Throughout her career Nicky always displayed a contagious energy and enthusiasm for research. In 2014 she left her clinical roles to concentrate fully on academia and in 2022 completed her PhD, within which she used a realist evaluation approach to understand the application of MyQuality (https://my-quality.net), a tool that she had developed to enable individuals to document, describe and monitor the issues that have the most impact on their quality of life. Nicky had a growing portfolio of really important and clinically valuable work which she continued to develop until very recently. This work included her evaluation of medicines impact and safety for children with medical complexity and her work on the management of seizures which forms a basis for the APPM seizure management guidance.
Perhaps most important of all were the personal qualities that Nicky brought to her work – colleagues have reflected that she was caring, clever, kind, dedicated, enlightened, inspirational, passionate and compassionate – they describe having felt privileged to work with her.
Nicky’s friendship, wisdom and influence on our work will be hugely missed. We thank her for the legacy that she leaves us and promise to use it to continue to work hard to take forward the care that she was so very committed to.
Dr Charlotte Mellor
Consultant in Paediatric Palliative Care, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children
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