Watch: Emilia Clarke’s powerful speech about nurses who fought to save her dying father

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Kayleigh Dray
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Emilia Clarke pays tribute to nurses

“Nursing is about more than just medicine; it’s about engaging with another person on a human level. Like hugging a daughter who knows that she is about to lose her dad…”

Two years ago, Emilia Clarke’s father lost his battle with cancer.

Now, on the 70th anniversary of the NHS, the Game of Thrones star has taken the time to praise the work of the incredible nurses who helped her cope with her dad’s illness – and who took the time to grieve with her after his death.

Speaking at the RCNi Nurse Awards ceremony in London on Wednesday night (4 July), Clarke said: “Even in my lifetime, nursing has drastically changed. Nurses are beginning to smash the old stereotypes and, for the first time, performing operations and running doctors’ surgeries.

“Our NHS, and other health services around the world, simply could not function without you. But even with the support you give, you aren’t getting it in return. Today’s nurses appear an easy target for cuts, not the priority for investment. This reality breaks my heart, as two years ago on the 10th of July I lost my darling dad.”

Taking a moment to collect herself, Clarke continued: “Our experience was shaped by the care he received. I was given the opportunity to be involved in the intricacies that made up a day of trying to save his life and it showed me with such clarity, not only the awe-inspiring skill that the nurses clearly had, but the emotional intelligence that came along with it.

“After a panic at hearing bells and buzzers I didn’t understand, the hug that came my way and the words that accompanied it both reassured and comforted me.”

Clarke went on to explain that she knows, without a shadow of a doubt, that her dad received “the best care and medical support” from the nurses that cared for him.

However, she is all too aware of the budget cuts being imposed upon the NHS – and the impact this will have on nursing going forward.

“The money the NHS has to keep our nurses trained and at the forefront of healthcare has been cut in half this year in England,” she said.

“This has to stop, we have to make a change… To force the people who save our lives to live on food stamps has to stop. Now, more than ever, we must value nursing.”

Clarke finished by saying that she bends the knee to nurses and support workers everywhere, adding: “Nursing is about more than just medicine; it’s about engaging with another person on a human level. Like hugging a daughter who knows that she is about to lose her dad…

“I vow to champion nurses and support workers and to help you gain the recognition and money you deserve. Together, we must support the next generation to innovate and become the powerful nurses of tomorrow.”

Clarke is not the first woman in the public eye to pen a missive to the NHS: Paloma Faith similarly made sure to express her gratitude to our National Health Service following the birth of her first child in 2016.

The Only Love Can Hurt Like This singer wrote: “After a difficult labour, resulting in an emergency C-section, I gave birth to my first child, with whom I am over the moon, in love, and delighted.”

Faith continued: “The devotion, kindness, and commitment shown by all of them was second to none, and I am humbled by the whole experience.

“I really believe the NHS to be one of the greatest achievements of this country, and it should be respected and protected by all.

“I am humbled by the unfaltering dedication I witnessed and received there,” finished Faith, “so thank you to the NHS, Melissa Whitten, Georgia Seiti, Wendy Hill, all in the Foetal Assessment Unit, and the Maternity Care Units. And god bless the NHS!”

Similarly, in 2017, Emma Willis thanked the NHS staff who helped to save her life after she was rushed to hospital with severe stomach pains.

At the time, the presenter shared a photograph of herself on Instagram smiling next to her surgeon, Marco Venza, after he performed emergency surgery on her appendix.

“The man in this picture was my surgeon, Marco Venza,” revealed The Voice presenter. “He, and his team, were incredible. Thank you so, so much for taking care of me and for putting me at ease every time I panicked!”

Willis continued: “Thank you to Amy, Scarlet, Karen, Caroline, Sophia, Jan, Mary-Beth, Gemma, Maha, Clement, Gabriel, and all the other brilliant and kind people who work on Damson ward.

“And finally, to everyone working their butts off within the NHS fighting to make it work, thank YOU!”

We couldn’t agree more.

Image: Getty


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.