One family – four generations of service

One family - four generations

Published: 11 May 2022

At Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust we often say that caring is in our DNA but one family in particular illustrates this beautifully.

From Margaret Sadd (born in 1886) to her great granddaughter, Sarah Champness, a nurse on our intensive care unit, four generations have dedicated their lives to health services.

Margaret qualified as a nurse in 1913 after spending time in Germany as a governess where, so family stories tell us, she used to watch the Kaiser playing tennis. Shortly after qualifying she married Edward Rudland and settled near Holsworthy. Tragically their first child, Barbara, died aged 10 days old in the summer of 1914. A few short months later, when the first world war started, Edward joined the Devon and Dorset regiment. Margaret decided to join him by volunteering with the British Red Cross and was sent to Egypt. She was mentioned in dispatches by General Sir A J Murray on 28 June 1917 for distinguished service in the field and received the Royal Red Cross, second class, which was awarded to members of the Military and Civilian Nursing Services.

Both Margaret and Edward survived the war and returned to Devon. Their son Edward was born in 1920 and was training as a doctor when world war two began. Although he could have continued training as he was in a reserved occupation, Edward joined the Royal Artillery and as a young Lieutenant arrived in Europe shortly after D-Day. After the war he completed his medical training and later settled in Paignton where he was a well-known and respected GP for many years.

Edward married Esther Hopkins, a nurse, in Falmouth in 1958 and two of their three children followed their parents into healthcare. One daughter, Julia, is a nurse and clinical lead in complex care while another, Rachel, has been a medical secretary at Torbay Hospital for many years. Rachel’s daughter, Sarah, joined the NHS at the age of 17 as a healthcare assistant and is now a nurse on our intensive care unit. Julia’s daughter is a healthcare assistant and hopes to become a nurse too while her son, Julia’s grandson, has already decided that when he grows up he wants to be a paramedic. If he follows through with this ambition – it will mean five generations of Rudlands who have dedicated their lives to caring for those in need.

Sarah said, “I always wanted to be a nurse – I never thought about being anything else. I feel a real sense of achievement and pride in being a nurse. It is a big responsibility to care for people but caring for others and making a difference is what I love doing. I’d encourage anyone thinking of becoming a nurse to just do it! It’s hard work but so rewarding and definitely worth it. Nursing offers such a wide field of choice and opportunity, there really is something for everyone.”

Julia meanwhile had doubts in her teens about whether nursing was for her, worried that she would not be able to cope with the blood and bodily fluids she briefly considered an alternative form of public service in the police. “I always knew that I would chose public service of some kind,” she said. “I believe we are born to care and I have worked as a nurse without a break in service since I was 19. The joy and the challenge of nursing is being there for people when they are most in need and being able to make a positive difference for however long you are involved in their care.”

Rachel add, “I’m so proud of our family story. You can really see the dedication we have to caring for others in every generation. The NHS offers so many different ways in which to care that there truly is something for everyone. Whether you’re cooking meals, organising appointments, dressing wounds or doing brain surgery we are all playing our part in helping people when they need us.”

Liz Davenport, Chief Executive of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are so proud to have Rachel, Julia and Sarah’s family story as part of our own Torbay and South Devon story. We know many of our people have deep roots both in the local area and in the caring profession and it is wonderful to see this so clearly demonstrated.”

Sir Richard Ibbotson, Chair of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I was fascinated by Rachel, Julia and Sarah’s family story. Sometimes when we talk about public service it can seem a very old-fashioned concept but it is what our people do each and every day – working together to help those who need our care. And that is truly special.”