Sixty years of compassion and care: Honouring Lesley Williams' nursing legacy


    As we mark UEA’s 60th anniversary, we celebrate six decades of academic excellence and also the extraordinary 60-year nursing career of Lesley Williams, a distinguished alumna.

    A photograph of Lesley Williams being presented her Honorary Award by Dr Sally Howes OBE, Chair of UEA Council.
    (L-R) Dr Sally Howes OBE, Chair of UEA Council, presents Lesley Williams with her Honorary Award.


    In recognition of her remarkable career and outstanding contributions to the field of nursing, UEA awarded Lesley an Honorary Fellowship at this year's UEA Scholarship Reception, an event which celebrates the diversity and global profile of its scholars and provides them with the opportunity to meet their donors and fellow scholarship holders from a range of departments and disciplines.

    Lesley’s nursing career demonstrates unwavering dedication and a profound commitment to mentoring and supporting fellow healthcare professionals.

    Lesley’s journey in nursing began over 60 years ago when she trained at The Royal Free in 1961. Her career path eventually led her to Suffolk, where she discovered her passion for caring for the elderly as a Staff Nurse and later as a Ward Sister. In 1984, she joined UEA to pursue her master's in the use of music in patient care - a decision that would profoundly impact her life and career.

    Speaking about her connection to UEA, Lesley said:

    “UEA has been an integral part of fuelling my passion toward nursing. I love coming here regularly and talking to the student nurses. This is part of my world, so I am just absolutely thrilled they have honoured me in such a special way. I feel very privileged to be here.”

    Lesley's commitment to nursing extends far beyond her years of service. In 2021, she marked her 60th year in nursing by establishing the Lesley Williams Masters Scholarship in Nursing, an initiative designed to support second-year scholars researching themes related to the care of older people or mental health care.

    Lesley's motivation for funding this scholarship is clear: "It's about empowering students to gain confidence and broaden their horizons, especially in elderly care. UEA provides not only support but also the freedom to make a difference in patient care and research."

    "My journey through nursing, taking me from Sudbury to The Seychelles, has been a lifelong commitment to care. The UEA opened doors that allowed me to 'do differently,' incorporating music into teaching and advancing the care of the elderly."

    At the age of 80, Lesley continues to teach fall prevention classes and serves as a Parish Nurse in Bury St Edmunds, providing palliative care. She is passionate about the importance of training, inspiring, and supporting the next generation of nurses and healthcare workers, especially in the face of rising global health challenges.

    Katherine Leaver, this year's Lesley Williams Master's in Nursing Scholar, is grateful to Lesley for sponsoring her studies:

    "Studying nursing at the University of East Anglia has been an enriching and transformative experience. The programme's focus on compassionate care, evidence-based practice, and the empowerment of students has ignited my passion for my profession."

    Since our establishment in 1963, we have been dedicated to supporting emerging talent, with donor-funded scholarships playing a pivotal role. In the 2022-23 academic year alone, we welcomed over 60 scholars, and we are committed to creating even more opportunities for excellence in the decades ahead. Together with donors like Lesley, we are determined to inspire and enable students to be the best versions of themselves, contributing to a brighter future for all.

    If Lesley Williams' story of dedication and philanthropy resonates with you, consider joining us in supporting talented students through scholarships.

    To find out more, please contact the Development Office:

    Meet the Team