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‘Jenny from Invercargill’: Family proud of nurse thanked by British PM

She said Jenny had not let on that she was nursing Johnson until the news became public, and even after that they did not talk about the British PM except to say they had lots of chats.

Jenny McGee's parents Mike and Caroline McGee are "exceptionally proud" their daughter has been recognised for her care of British PM Boris Johnson in London.

Jenny McGee’s parents Mike and Caroline McGee are “exceptionally proud” their daughter has been recognised for her care of British PM Boris Johnson in London.

McGee said her daughter went to Verdon College in Invercargill before studying at the Otago School of Nursing.

From there she went straight to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, where she spent six years and did her intensive care training, before moving to London. McGee said Jenny loved her life in London but loved New Zealand as well and came home on holidays regularly.

It came as a bit of a surprise when Johnson named Jenny personally, leaving the family “absolutely astounded and exceptionally proud”.

She said hospital staff were “absolutely exhausted” at the moment.

The nurse has received many messages of support, including from NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who revealed on Monday that she used “the informal tactic of finding her on Facebook and sending her a Facebook message” to give her New Zealand’s support.

“We have thanked our frontline health workers in New Zealand many times and rightly so but I wanted to add an acknowledgement that many, many Kiwis work in health care around the world,” Ardern said.

“They show the same commitment, same care, same work ethic that they do here.

“We are all very proud of them, especially you Nurse Jenny.”


Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt said it was “absolutely amazing” to have an Invercargill connection to such an event.

“It’s not very often a nurse from Invercargill saves the life of the British Prime Minister,” Shadbolt said.

McGee’s actions showed the professionalism and resilience of Southlanders and everyone should be feeling proud, he said.

“It’s very seldom we get a mention on the BBC, I’m sure it will lift people’s spirits,” Shadbolt said.

Eve McSoriley met Jenny through Panache choir at Verdon College, and they have been friends for more than 20 years.

She said her friend was humble and had an amazing sense of humour: “she should have a stand-up show”.

She said nursing was a “natural thing she [Jenny] was going to do” because she connected with people from all walks of life. That Johnson mentioned Jenny personally “says a lot about her personality and her spirit”, McSoriley said.

Brent Russell was the principal at Verdon College when McGee was a student.


When Russell read that ‘a Jenny from Invercargill’ was Johnson’s nurse, he instantly thought it may have been McGee.

“I thought of her straight away,” Russell said. “Knowing her personality and demeanour I’m not surprised she went into nursing and doing well.”

He acknowledged the former student was one of those thousands of health service workers making sacrifices around the world right now.

Southland District Council Waihopai Toetoe Ward councillor Paul Duffy’s farm was about 10km from the McGee’s near Edendale.

Duffy said there were nurses around the world saving people and McGee’s care of Johnson is just another example of the great work the profession did.

Rob McGee, Jenny’s brother, told the UK’s MailOnline: “She is very humble and is back at work now for another night shift.

“She said she was just really pleased to see all the hard working people in the NHS be recognised for the amazing work they are doing.

“She is just doing her job and that is how she sees it. This is what she was trained for, helping people who need care. Special people.”


Johnson, who spent a week in hospital and three nights in the ICU at St Thomas’ Hospital, was discharged on Sunday, London time.

Soon after, he posted a video to Twitter thanking those who took care of him.

“It is hard to find the words to express my debt to the NHS for saving my life,” he said.

“I want to thank the many nurses, men and women, whose care has been so astonishing.”

After naming several specific staff members, he singled out two nurses “who stood by my bedside for 48 hours”.

A patient is taken from an ambulance at St Thomas' Hospital on April 10 in London.

A patient is taken from an ambulance at St Thomas’ Hospital on April 10 in London.Credit:Getty Images

One was Jenny, from New Zealand. “Invercargill, on the South Island, to be exact,” Johnson said. The other was Luis from near Porto in Portugal.

He said Jenny and another nurse’s interventions ensured he got the attention he needed to survive Covid-19.

The 55-year-old Johnson was diagnosed more than two weeks ago, becoming the first world leader confirmed to have the illness.

His coronavirus symptoms at first were said to have been mild, including a cough and a fever.

He was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital after his condition worsened and was transferred to the intensive care unit the following day, where he received oxygen but was not put onto a ventilator.

He will not immediately return to work.

Stuff with AP

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