Every year, we are honoured to recognize members of the SMUS community as they retire and take on new adventures. Read the 2021 Retirees series to learn more about their outstanding contributions to the school. In this story, we recognize nurse Beverley McClure.
Beverley McClure considers her last 20 years in the SMUS Health Centre: “I feel quite fulfilled; it’s been worth everything.”
Her family moved to Victoria from northern England in 1997, after having vacationed here four years earlier. She worked at Saanich Peninsula Hospital for several years. When she first joined SMUS, Beverley worked on her days off from the hospital. As time went on, that balance flipped, and the students at SMUS took her focus. “I got the best of both worlds.”
Students would naturally come to see Beverley with injuries or fevers, but some just came by to talk. The Health Centre is a neutral, welcoming, cozy space. “It was like Switzerland.” They could have a snack and a cup of tea. There were always magazines and yearbooks to peruse, but as the years went on, students tended to enjoy sitting on their phones. Providing students this safe and comfortable place is important in building a trusting relationship.
“You have to establish rapport with a patient. I can do a head-to-toe assessment in a minute – you master it over time.”
Beverley was a consummate caregiver. She occasionally opened her home for a few of the homesick boarding students or those who couldn’t make it home during school holidays. Once, a boarder was having a difficult time adjusting at school and her roommate was away, so Beverley secured permission to spend the night in the student’s room to ensure the student had the care and support she needed.
Of all the students, Beverley feels an affinity for those whose first language is not English. After completing her General Nursing, she completed her midwifery training. This led to work in Lausanne, Switzerland. Everyone there spoke French, while her French language skills were not great. She was expected to conduct her work in French and understand what a French-speaking pregnant or labouring woman was saying. It was quite a challenge, but she had a French friend tutor her. She remembers feeling awkward and uncertain, and used her own experience to help support students. She always helped people and worked to encourage them to engage in conversation with her. “It is part of fitting in; you are never going to speak exactly the same.”
Beverley recalls learning a key life lesson while walking with her then-three-year-old son Callum that she says helped in her nursing career. They’d walked a distance when he stopped and said, “I can’t go any further. My legs are tired.” She replied, “My legs aren’t tired”. After a moment, he spoke, “But Mommy, these are my legs, not your legs.” This moment stuck. “It was really an eye-opener, truly out of the mouths of babes. It puts into context that you never know truly what that person is going through. Sometimes they don’t even know how they are feeling. It is humbling to know we don’t know everything.”
Two of Beverley’s children attended SMUS: her daughter Oona ’01, now an art therapist, and her son, Callum ‘06, now an architect.
Nursing has been a satisfying and rewarding career for Beverley. She has learned so much about youths and thinks “young people are the best people to work with; they can learn from you, and you can learn from them.” She took the time to get to know the students and understood that in the Health Centre, “they’ve come for a band aid – but they haven’t come for a band aid. They’ve come for tea and a talk.”
And now in retirement, Beverley is administering COVID-19 vaccinations. “It hits the spot. When you’ve always done something you’ve loved, you can’t just stop.” But, she says she will also take the time to get into things around her home and settle into retirement properly. She’s going to go for walks, gardening and spend time with her family, and especially her grandson.
“At graduation, following those youngsters from Grade 8,” Beverley relates, “and how they had grown and blossomed. It was a pleasure, an honour. But you’ve got to let them go.”