Service to celebrate life of ‘fantastic’ community nurse

A service of gratitude is to be held next month to celebrate the life of an inspirational senior community nurse, David Pugh, following his recent death.

The service will be held at Bristol Cathedral on Tuesday 19 March between 3pm and 4pm.

“He was a fantastic nurse and so respected by everybody”

Dave Sampson

Any nurses or other healthcare workers wishing to pay their respects are welcome to attend.

Mr Pugh, whose nursing career spanned 30 years, died peacefully in November with his husband, Dave Sampson, by his side.

Speaking to Nursing Times, Mr Sampson said nursing was his husband’s “complete world”.

“He was just committed to his role, and he was a fantastic nurse and so respected by everybody,” he said.

Mr Sampson said if it was not for his ill health, Mr Pugh would have “got to the top” of his career.

“His most important thing was his work, and myself,” he explained.

“He lived for the NHS and what he did, but he didn’t shout about it.”

Mr Pugh died just two weeks short of when he was planning to retire on ill-health grounds, and just 37 days after his marriage to Mr Sampson.

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Mr Sampson explained that he “didn’t want to finish work” even as his health deteriorated.

He said: “He was so committed to his job, he didn’t want to pack it in.

“Maybe in a way though that was a good thing, because that kept him mentally sound.”

Mr Pugh’s most recent role was as Sirona Care and Health’s assistant locality manager for South Gloucestershire.

His career began as a healthcare assistant before he commenced nurse training in 2001.

When he qualified as a registered nurse, he took up his first community nurse role within a rapid response team.

Mr Pugh then went on to complete a degree in district nursing and a postgraduate certificate in NHS leadership.

Dave Sampson (left) with husband David Pugh, both in suits in front of green field with the sea in the background and blue skies

From left, Dave Sampson and David Pugh

Career highlights include setting up the South Bristol Primary Care Home Collaborative Leg Clinic to improve the health of people in a deprived area of the city.

He was also involved in setting up antiviral collection points and a vaccination centre for swine flu in 2009 and more recently in supporting the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition, he was the former chair of the National District Nurse Network.

Over the years, Mr Pugh was recognised for his outstanding commitment to nursing.

He received The Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Award for Outstanding Service in March 2023 from the Queen’s Nursing Institute.

In the same year, Nursing Times named him as one of 75 nurses that have contributed to the NHS in a significant way.

The upcoming service at Bristol Cathedral is an open invitation for nurses other healthcare professionals to celebrate Mr Pugh’s dedication to the health service.

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Mr Sampson said the location felt “very fitting” because it was where Mr Pugh graduated.

He added: “I think it’ll be the perfect tribute to him for all that’s done, it just can’t not be recognised.”

If nurses wish to make a contribution to the service, a GoFundMe page has been set up in Mr Pugh’s name for people to make donations.

Any leftover funds will be donated to the Dorothy House Hospice, which has been supporting Mr Sampson in his bereavement.

Mr Sampson said: “They’ve been a godsend.

“They look after families as well as the patient, it’s been a good support to me.”

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