Julia Styles: Champion of GP practice nurses and women's cancer campaigner

Julia Styles was a nurse from the valleys of South Wales.

Awarded an MBE in the New Year's Honours for her work in healthcare in Wales, she received the award just a month before she died. She left school without O-levels but eventually gained an MA from Swansea University, lecturing there and at the University of Glamorgan, becoming along the way a champion of practice nurses and the contribution they could make to general practice. She also developed all-Wales training programmes for cervical screening.

Julia Jones was born in 1950 in Blackwood, South Wales, one of seven children of the owner of an ice-cream business. She became a nursing cadet as soon as she was old enough and trained for the assistant grade of State Enrolled Nurse at St James Hospital, Tredegar, while studying for O-levels at the same time.

She made the then-unusual career choice of becoming one of the first nurses in Wales in a family doctor's practice at Abertillery. She was eventually to develop the first academic programme for practice nurses and the first electronic learning packages.

In 1971 she married Granville Styles, and while their three children were small she worked nights at Neville Hall hospital, later going to the University Hospital, Cardiff, to qualify as a State Registered Nurse. As soon as she was on the register, she was awarded a scholarship to study part-time for a master's degree in nursing at Swansea University.

She became assistant director for primary care at the University of Cardiff, a deputy director of the National Science course at Swansea University, and a lecturer at the University of Glamorgan. She joined the staff of the Royal College of Nursing, and was always particularly encouraging of mature students.

As head of nursing at Blaenau Gwent local health board, she transformed nursing in Ebbw Vale. She initiated a partnership with the University of Glamorgan with local courses being accredited.

It was while in this post, in 2007, that she became ill with ovarian cancer. When, two years ago, funding was withdrawn from specialist cancer nurses, she campaigned and wrote to the Health Minister.

The 500 mourners at her funeral at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Blackwood, where she had been baptised, were each given a daffodil – emblem of Marie Curie Cancer Care as well as the Welsh national flower.

Julia Styles was a good negotiator, who always had a plan. Her interests outside nursing included line dancing and walking, particularly in the Gower Peninsula, and she was a member of Pontllanfraith Methodist Choir.

Julia Jones MBE, Welsh nurse leader and educationist: born Blackwood, South Wales 14 April 1950; married 1971 Granville Styles (three children); died 18 March, 2011.

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