A Filipino nurse who arrived in Hereford on a snowy New Year’s Day five years ago has spoken of how the city has now become her permanent home.

When Jaycel Mercullo left her home town of Dumaguete in the Philippines in December 2015, she could hardly have dreamt of her new life in leafy Herefordshire.

It was her first venture abroad, her first time living in a country away from home and the first time she experienced temperatures below 20 degrees.

“There were four of us who arrived from the Philippines at the same time and it was a lot to take in on one day. I remember the day vividly as there were so many firsts – it meant a new beginning for all of us,” said 30-year-old Jaycel.

Colleagues from Wye Valley NHS Trust met and greeted the four Filipinos and made sure they were comfortable in their new homes in the city.

“We were fortunate to that the Trust is an employer that has supported us every step of the way, from the interviews back in the Philippines through to settling us in on our first days here in the UK – they have treated us like a family,” added Jaycel.

Since then the Trust has supported them with their studies, including the important Objective Structured Clinical Exams (OSCE) which is part of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) registration process for nurses and midwives who have trained abroad.

The detailed exams tests their knowledge and understanding of assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of care. The NHS constitutional values and the 6Cs of nursing are also assessed throughout the OSCE exams.

“The Trust also supported us to get our PIN numbers (you need one of these to become a registered nurse in the UK) and supported us as we settled into our various roles on our respective wards.

“Fast forward to 2021, five years from that moment we stepped foot on the grounds of Hereford County Hospital for the first time, and I can’t help but feel emotional reminiscing over all that has happened since then.

“Along with my colleague, Xerross Jayne, we have moved together to roles in the Intensive Care Unit a year ago, in the middle of the pandemic, and one of my friends is now on Monnow Ward and the other is thoroughly enjoying her role in theatres.

“We have grown so much in the span of few years. I am now happily married to my amazing husband, Marquin, and we have been blessed with our beautiful two-year-old daughter Amia,” added Jaycel.

Jaycel is also celebrating as has recently been granted settled status in the country she now loves dearly and calls home.

“The three women I arrived with, I now consider family, and would have never survived without them. We have met a lot of people along the way and have made many new friends and incredible relationships.

“We have made it this far because of all the help we received from friends, colleagues, and even strangers who are now closest to our hearts.

“We have made Hereford our home.”