From early childhood Lauren Taylor had always dreamt of being a nurse but devastating personal news forced her to put her ambition on hold.
With a conditional offer to study nursing at Bournemouth University in place, her final exams to complete her A levels were only six weeks away when she learned her father's brain tumour had progressed to terminal brain cancer.
For Miss Taylor, who is now 24, there was simply no choice – her exams and her future career were put on hold while she cared for and spent valuable time building priceless memories with her father David Taylor who died after a long, brave battle at the age of 45.
Throughout all this time she said: “My dad would often joke and call me, Nurse Taylor.
"I was predicted good results in my A-levels and my dad was anxious my potential should not go to waste. He always insisted I should go and do my nursing and made me promise I would, he would tell me to reach for the stars and never give up.”
Without A levels, her career in care necessarily started on the first rung of the ladder as a support worker at a residential care home.
However, her progress was so impressive that within two years she was a duty manager; after moving to Kingsley Healthcare run Queen Charlotte Nursing Home, in Chickerell Road, Chickerell, she continued her rise from care coordinator to head of care.
She said: “I still wanted to study nursing, but now with my young daughter Bella to support, I could not see how it might be possible until I talked it through with our operations manager Georgina Dennison and with encouragement from my home manager Christine Gurr.
Following that conversation, Kingsley has agreed to support and guide Lauren through her training while continuing to work at The Queen Charlotte and granting her paid study leave each week while she does her four year nursing degree with the Open University.
This will enable her to study, while supporting her daughter. Lauren feels confident her mentors within Kingsley Healthcare at The Queen Charlotte will guide her to complete her degree and become a good nurse.
She said: “I am so grateful to Kingsley for this opportunity and I must thank my mum Kerry Cross and my stepdad Wayne Cross for their unerring support and for consistently encouraging me to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse. Without them I would not be doing this.”
Miss Taylor, who starts her university studies in January with the help of a student loan, said when she qualifies as a nurse she would like to continue caring for those who are elderly and living with dementia.
“It is a privilege to be able to support people at the end of their life, supporting their families as much as them,” she said.
“I know how it feels. I am passionate about good practice and caring for people with dignity and respect.”
Ms Dennison said: “There is a national shortage of nurses and at Kingsley we are pleased to be able to support our own staff and to help them as they develop and progress into a career that they have always wanted. To support Lauren while she fulfils her dream of becoming a registered nurse will be an honour and something that all of the team are proud to be part of. Plus at the end of the four years we will have a trained nurse to join the team.”