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'It has been tough': Hero Dawn still smiling after stressful year

We want to honour the heroism of our frontline workers, and here we take a look at some of those people who have been nominated by their friends and loved ones

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Frontline hero: Dawn Wallace a nurse in A&E at Mullingar General Hospital.
Photo Kevin Mc Nulty

Frontline hero: Dawn Wallace a nurse in A&E at Mullingar General Hospital. Photo Kevin Mc Nulty

Kevin Mc Nulty

Frontline hero: Dawn Wallace a nurse in A&E at Mullingar General Hospital. Photo Kevin Mc Nulty

Accident and Emergency nurse Dawn Wallace greets each day with a smile as she battles on the frontline while carrying her own pain.

For the past three years, Dawn (29) has worked at the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore, Co Offaly. She and her colleagues have provided life-saving care every day they go to work.

Dawn herself contracted Covid but recovered and returned to work to support her colleagues.

Throughout the pandemic, Dawn has done this while carrying the burden of grief.

Last November she lost her younger brother Lee Wallace (26) to cancer.

Dawn cared for him at home and in his final weeks brought forward her wedding so he could walk her down the aisle.

Dawn married her partner Trevor in a low-key family ceremony last October, with a larger ceremony and celebration booked in Portugal this year. Sadly, due to the pandemic, Dawn has had to cancel her dream wedding twice.

Described by those who know her as "loving, kind and joyful", Dawn's commitment to her patients and colleagues has never wavered.

Today, Dawn is named as the Irish Independent Frontline Star of the Week.

She said pandemic has been "an extremely stressful and difficult time for all healthcare workers, but I love my job."

"It has been a tough couple of months, but we are a very united and exceptional team here in Tullamore," she added.

"The doctors, nurses, cleaners - everybody just digs in and supports each other and our patients. We are very united, and that has helped us all cope with the situation, and I count myself very lucky in that regard.

"It has been really stressful, and it's still not over. I think sometimes people don't realise that we aren't out of the woods.

"Every day we are still dealing with people with symptoms of Covid."

Dawn found great comfort in the support she has received from her colleagues while she took time out to care for Lee.

"They are my friends as well as my colleagues, and they have been a great support to me when my brother was sick last year," she said.

"Up until I took time off to care for him at home, coming to work was my little escape. It was a massive comfort to me having such good people around me.

"I am also very lucky with my husband, Trevor. He has been brilliant and although it was very disappointing having to cancel Portugal it has given me something to look forward to next year.

"When things seem hard, it's nice to talk about and plan my wedding."

In the meantime, Dawn intends to keep working away on the frontline, helping people when they need it most.

"I love my job, and I love that we can make a difference to people when they need us," she added.

Dawn was nominated by her friend Lynn Clarke who described her as "the most decent person I know and always willing to help".

The Irish Independent Frontline Star of the Week award aims to recognise and celebrate the ordinary heroes who have kept the country going in the Covid-19 crisis.

To nominate someone, email your submission (100 words max) along with a photo, telling us about your nominee to frontlinestar@independent.ie.

Irish Independent