This week, one of Noah’s Ark’s beloved play specialists, Juliet, retired after more than 40 years of service within the NHS. 

Juliet first started as a nursery nurse on the children’s ward in Llandough in 1982. She qualified as a play specialist in 2001 and, along with the rest of her team, moved over to the newly opened Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales on the 1st of March 2005.

Juliet has helped thousands of children over the years and has been very much loved by generations of children.  Among her many talents is her ability to delight any child by transforming a plain old carboard box in to pretty much anything – from an enchanted castle to a DJ’s mixing desk. Her accomplishments also include the introduction of food play therapy – a method of helping children to overcome aversions to food and textures. This is something quite common in young patients who have been tube fed.

Five-year-old Eden-Olive was helped to overcome her food aversion by Juliet as a baby after being born with a condition that had initially made it unsafe for her to take food orally.  Though touch is a key part of a baby’s development, Eden-Olive hated getting her hands dirty so Juliet placed food around her favourite toys, encouraging her to touch and explore.


Eden’s mum, Michelle says: “Juliet dedicated seven months to teaching Eden that it was ok to get her hands messy and put food to her mouth.  Whenever I do messy play with Eden-Olive or watch her enjoying food now, I think of Juliet and the love and dedication she showed us. I’ll never stop being grateful to her for helping my daughter to overcome such a huge hurdle.”


Juliet has worked on many paediatric wards but has spent the last eight years on her favourite – Island ward. She says: “It sounds a bit out there, but I really feel that Island ward has a soul. The warmth, the kindness, the way the staff care so very very much about their patients and each other is special.”


Juliet’s Island ward colleagued were among the guests at her leaving lunch yesterday, along with her play team colleagues and very special visitor, Eden-Olive.  Paying tribute to Juliet, her manager of 18 years,

Sue, said:  “Whenever you go on to Island ward, you’ll always hear Juliet’s name being spoken, by children, their families and the staff that she works with. She’s been there for them all over the last 40 years and we’re hugely grateful for all she has done.”


Before leaving, Juliet had a message she asked us to pass on to Noah’s Ark families and supporters of the charity. She said: “The Noah’s Ark Charity has helped fund the play team for many years now and I’ve always appreciated that, each hour I’ve spent helping a child has been made possible by charity supporters like you.

“Whether it’s a child holding a tabletop sale, a club putting on an event or a school taking part in a challenge, it all adds up to a hospitalised child being helped through their illness. So thank you.

“I’ve been so privileged to have such a long and varied career in the NHS.  Thank you so much for letting me look after your children. It’s the right move for me to retire – my knees won’t take another floor play session –  but I’ll miss you all very much.”

Good luck with the next part of your journey Juliet.  We’ll all miss you too.

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