17 May 2014

NZ nurse receives highest award

6:55 am on 17 May 2014

A Gisborne nurse has been presented with the Florence Nightingale Medal - the highest international distinction a nurse can receive.

Janet Askew is one of 32 nurses from 16 countries who were awarded the medal, which recognises courage and devotion to the victims of armed conflict or natural disaster.

Ms Askew has worked for the New Zealand Red Cross for the past decade in various countries including Sudan, Indonesia and Iraq.

She provided nursing care amid grim deprivation and limited medical facilities, Red Cross secretary-general Tony Paine said, and her work in situations of considerable danger had been exemplary.

"She was held at gunpoint several times,she was sitting alongside someone who was shot and wounded," he said.

The medal was awarded to her in 2013 and presented at a ceremony in Gisborne on Friday, rather than at Government House, as she is being treated for cancer and unable to travel.

Ms Askew said she was humbled by the award and was pleased to receive the medal, which was something she could leave to her family.