Nursing and midwifery students honoured at graduation ceremony

Over 120 nursing and midwifery students attended UHI’s graduation and celebration of success and achievement in Inverness today (Thursday 16 November).

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Left to right: Roma Gibb, Laura Mackay, Darryl Geegan and Eilidh Barbour

The ceremony, which took place at the Free North Church, celebrated the success of students from UHI’s nursing and midwifery departments in Inverness and Stornoway. The students, who were joined by 400 guests, celebrated success in a range of qualifications including Higher National Certificates, Higher National Diplomas, degrees and postgraduate programmes.

The students were played into the ceremony by local piper and UHI Gaelic officer, DJ MacIntyre, and congratulated by Professor Nicola Carey, Head of Nursing and Midwifery. The keynote address was given by Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, who congratulated the students on their dedication and commitment.

Leading forensic anthropologist Professor Dame Sue Black and renowned highland musician Duncan Chisholm were awarded honorary doctorates at the ceremony.

The event was followed by a reception at UHI House.

Speaking about the day, Vicki Nairn, UHI’s Interim Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said: “Congratulations to all of today’s graduates and award winners! We are immensely proud of your achievements. Completing a university or college qualification represents a major milestone in life. We wish our new alumni every success, happiness and prosperity as they take the first steps into their new lives.”

Darryl Geegan - UHI Nursing and Midwifery Student of the Year

Darryl Geegan (32) from Inverness was presented with UHI’s Nursing and Midwifery Student of the Year award. Darryl, who completed a BSc adult nursing degree, was commended for his work to promote nursing and the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion.

Marie Cameron, a Senior Lecturer in UHI’s department of nursing and midwifery, explained: “Darryl has been an outstanding student since starting the nursing programme in 2020. His commitment has been exceptional. As part of Darryl’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, he wrote a blog about his love of nursing and his activism as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. His equality, diversity and inclusion work help to promote UHI and our department as a safe and welcoming place for all.”

Speaking about his success, Darryl said: “Juggling everything I have going on in life throughout the three-year programme has been extremely difficult, so to be recognised for managing to balance everything is really lovely. I always try my best in everything I do, and my nursing career shall be no exception. I'm very much looking forward to getting stuck-in and seeing where my career takes me!”

Roma Gibb - Inventor of the Bed Band

Roma Gibb (39) from Evanton completed a BSc degree in adult nursing. Over the course of her degree, she garnered praise for devising and developing an innovative product which helps people with mobility issues get a good night’s sleep. The Bed Band, which is currently going through testing and the patenting process, has received support from Innovate UK, the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal health and life sciences innovation fund, Converge and Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s IMPACT 30 and Pathfinder Accelerator programmes.

Roma said: “My time at UHI has been a life changing experience. Not only have I fulfilled my dream of becoming a community nurse, I have also become an entrepreneur! It's been a rollercoaster three years, but the staff and my fellow students have made it the most exciting and rewarding experience. Across our cohort you will find the most inspiring new nurses and I'm privileged to graduate alongside them! Congratulations nurses! Thank you UHI!”

Eilidh Barbour - Chancellor’s Nursing Award winner

Eilidh Barbour (32) from Fort William was named as the winner of UHI’s 2023 Chancellor’s Nursing Award. Established in 2020, the annual award is presented on behalf of UHI’s Chancellor, HRH The Princess Royal.

Eilidh, who has completed a BSc adult nursing degree, was nominated for the award by her personal academic tutor, Hannah Hollinger. Hannah explained: “Eilidh enjoyed her clinical placements and repeatedly received positive feedback. She was noted to have exceptional knowledge, while being enthusiastic to continue learning. She integrates as part of the team quickly and strives to provide the highest standards of patient care in a kind, caring and considerate manner with invaluable input and observational skills. She has been shown to support junior staff and to promote education by sharing any information she has collated. She is punctual, professional, well presented and an excellent communicator. Her feedback at the end of each placement has been that she will make an excellent and caring nurse.”

Eilidh received £100 and a framed certificate to mark her success.

Speaking about her award, she said: “Being nominated for the Chancellor’s award was such a lovely surprise and to win has been incredible. Studying for the nursing degree has been a mixture of highs and lows. I've celebrated achieving skills and passing exams, but also struggled in times of loss and grief. I've lost a grandparent for every year of studying and I don't doubt they would all be so proud to see me standing here today.

“My family and friends have been the best support I could ever wish for. I came through the degree with a great bunch of girls who have always looked out for each other and kept each other going. But the biggest and best supporters have been my husband James, my children Harry and Zoey and my mum Jeni who have always encouraged me to pursue my goals. I am so proud to call myself a nurse and can honestly say, despite its challenges, I love my job.”

Laura MacKay - BSc nursing graduate

I started the BSc nursing course in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Studying at the Western Isles campus allowed me to complete much of the course from my home in Benbecula.

It has always been my ambition to work in my own community and I feel very fortunate that my clinical placements took place throughout the Western Isles, providing me with the opportunity to work, not only in my own community in Uist, but in Lewis and Harris as well.

I am very grateful for the experiences I have had and the people I have met along the way! I have thoroughly enjoyed my time studying at UHI and would like to thank the staff for the excellent support they have provided over the last three years. I am really looking forward to graduating and for the opportunity to catch up with my cohort. I would like to wish everyone the best in their future careers!

To find out more about studying nursing at UHI, visit