Olympic gold medallist curler Vicky Wright received a hero’s welcome when she returned to ward B11 to start her first shift after her recent stunning success in the Beijing Winter Olympics.
She was greeted with cheers and clapping by colleagues and the ward was decorated with flowers, posters, bunting and balloons.
There was even a makeshift curling rink which Vicky just had to try out, easily scoring a bullseye! Staff also made a special gold medal celebration cake and erected a blue plaque outside the entrance to the surgical ward to mark her incredible achievement. Colleagues clamoured to try on her gold medal saying her success had resulted in a huge boost in morale after two years battling with Covid-19.
Vicky had reduced her hours after working on the front line in the fight against Covid-19 to focus on the Winter Games, and as vice-skip on Eve Muirhead’s team, helped beat Japan 10-3 in the final to secure Britain’s only Olympic gold.
She said that getting the gold and becoming Olympic champion still doesn’t feel real. She explained: “I keep looking down at my medal and thinking what have we just achieved? I am excited to be back to work and see everyone as I have missed being in the ward and I was ready to get back to some sense of normality.
“I wouldn’t have my gold medal around my neck if it wasn’t for all my colleagues. They have supported me so well and this medal is as much theirs as mine.”
My welcome was amazing; “Everyone was lined up in the corridor clapping me in. The moment I made eye contact with senior staff nurse, Lisa McCann, the tears started to come.”
As the team battled their way to the gold, ward staff followed every sweep of the broom. Senior staff nurse Lisa McCann said all her colleagues were desperate to see the medal and try it on.
Lisa said: “She’s certainly done us proud. I only had two hours sleep the night she got the gold; myself and five other staff linked up through Facetime to watch the final and we were all crying when we saw her being presented with her medal, it was just great.
“She has thanked us for all our support, messages, and congratulations, and says she couldn’t have done it without us.”
Throughout the Games, staff wore specially designed badges saying ‘Go Vicky, B11’s Olympic curler’ which became a talking point with local patients, eager to follow her progress.
Fellow staff nurse, Kay Russell, added: “It’s an amazing achievement. I thought she would be quite emotional when she saw the ward being decked out and knew how much we had been supporting her to achieve her Olympic dream. Everyone in the ward was rooting for Vicky and the team.”
Cathie Cowan, NHS Forth Valley’s Chief Executive, described Vicky as not only an incredible sportswoman, but also a very caring and dedicated nurse.
She said: “Vicky has worked incredibly hard to achieve her goals and has successfully managed to combine her curling training with her work as a nurse – a job which is demanding at the best of times and even more so over the last two years.
“She is a tremendous role model for both the sporting and nursing professions, and we are incredibly proud of everything she has achieved.”
Vicky meanwhile is not quite sure of her next moves on the ice. She said: “To be honest I don’t know what the future holds now. We still have a couple of competitions this season and I will continue to work a shift at the hospital every week until the season is finished and then take it from there.”
The Olympic gold medal winning Women’s Curling team, which also including skip Eve Muirhead as well as second Jennifer Dodds, lead Hailey Duff and alternate Mili Smith, entered Beijing 2022 off the back of a successful run at the European Championships in November 2021 and Vicky said being selected was a “dream come true”.
Curling since the age of 11, Vicky adds the Olympic gold to a gold from the 2021 European Curling Championship in Lillehammer and a sliver from the 2019 championship in Helsingborg. She also has silver from the 2013 Sochi World Junior Curling Championships.
You can watch a short video of Vicky’s first day back in the ward here.