Irish rugby players standing shoulder to shoulder with healthcare workers

Tommy Bowe, Rory Best and others send messages of support to staff at National Maternity Hospital

A stellar cast of Irish rugby players have lined out to make sure the midwives of the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) and healthcare workers across the State know the country is standing shoulder to shoulder with them .

Players past and present including Tommy Bowe, Sean Cronin, Rory Best, Gordon D'Arcy and Peter Stringer sent video messages of support to the staff at the NMH after being contacted by Penny Mitchell, a general nurse and recently qualified midwife at the Holles St hospital.

Ms Mitchell was feeling overwhelmed as she and her colleagues continued to work through the stress, difficulty and pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic, to help take care of new mums, partners and their newborn babies.

“All I could think of on my way home from another busy shift was, what can I do to help my fellow colleagues, to boost their spirits and to help morale across the hospital,” she said.

Then the penny dropped. As an avid rugby fan, Ms Mithcell decided to reach out to Irish rugby players on Instagram to see if they would have a moment to send her on a video of support for her colleagues.

"The response I received was overwhelming and totally unexpected," she said. All told she received 15 messages from Irish rugby players which she stitched into one YouTube video which she initially planned to share only with the staff at the NMH.

But once she had the video ready she decided to use it to reach out, not just to her direct colleagues at but to all healthcare workers across Ireland, so they would all know that they had support behind them and that they were not alone.

After getting sight of the video that has started circulating online, the master of the NMH Prof Shane Higgins said he was "genuinely in awe" when he saw what the midwife had delivered. "I hope that her desire to reach every healthcare worker right across the county is realised."