‘Fastest woman in Africa’ retires after 50 years in NHS

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Rose Amankwaah, once Africa’s record-holder for 100m, has been a theatre nurse for nearly 50 years

A London nurse once described as the “fastest woman in Africa” is retiring after almost five decades in the NHS.

Former international sprinter Rose Amankwaah, 72, represented Ghana at the 1974 Commonwealth Games and started working in the NHS in 1975.

She was initially given weekends off so she could continue her athletics training, where she ran alongside a young Linford Christie.

Mrs Amankwaah spent her whole medical career at Central Middlesex Hospital.

Rose Amankwaah, then Asiedua, won a medal in the 1974 Commonwealth Games

Mrs Amankwaah, then Rose Asiedua, won a bronze medal at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand.

She added another medal to her haul in 2023 when she was given the NHS Silver Medal Award by England’s chief nurse, Dame Ruth May.

She moved to England in 1974 aged 22, and shortly afterwards started training to be a nurse.

After finishing her training she was employed by the hospital as a staff nurse and finishes her career as theatre matron.

During her time at London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust, the mother-of-four and grandmother-of-10 has met both royalty and senior politicians.

London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust Rose Amankwaah and the then Prince CharlesLondon North West University Healthcare NHS TrustRose Amankwaah met the then Prince Charles when he visited the hospital

She said: “I’m happy that I’m going to have some time with my family but I have been in this hospital all my life, so retirement feels like losing something – you’re part of the furniture and all of a sudden you are not going to be.

“But I’m so happy that I have achieved what I want to achieve.”

Mrs Amankwaah said that during her work in theatres she had seen major advances in surgery – with most procedures being “open” when she started, followed by a shift to laparoscopic, or keyhole, surgery and now widespread use of robotic surgery.

PA Rose Amankwaah and Tony BlairPARose Amankwaah, pictured with Tony Blair in 1999, has seen surgery change from open, to keyhole, to robotic

Her first trip in retirement will be to Ghana to visit her 87-year-old sister, with a number of other holidays in the pipeline.

Retirement also means she will be able to watch the Paris Olympics in the summer.

On her sprinting career she said: “I started running in 1958 when I was in secondary school in Ghana.

“I started representing Ghana with a high jump but then a coach came to me and said they would like to train me in 100m and 200m races.”

A London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust spokesperson said: “The NHS is all about people and we’ll all miss Rose when she goes. She is a great nurse and personality and, after 49 years, still knows how to set the pace and run the race.”

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