It is with tremendous sadness that Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust announces the death of a much loved, respected and admired colleague.

Margaret Tapley, who was 84, had dedicated many years of her life to the NHS, working most recently as a health care assistant on Linfoot Ward at Witney Community Hospital.

She passed away at Great Western Hospital, Swindon, at 3am today (April 19), having bravely fought Coronavirus. The Trust’s deepest condolences and thoughts go out to her husband, family and all who knew her at this very sad time.

Oxford Health will be supporting her family as best we can through their loss and the Trust is also offering support to Margaret’s many friends at work, devastated at her passing.

Despite her advancing years, Margaret was determined to carry on caring and being part of her hospital family. She would regularly undertake nightshifts and worked there, delivering care to patients, for the last time on April 10.

Chief Executive Stuart Bell paid tribute to her. He said: “She was a legend on the ward, and more widely throughout the whole hospital. She had worked there for many years, and was remarkable in that she stayed with her team well beyond the point when many others would have retired – she was 84.

“She was also remarkable in the way she provided calm reassurance, support and encouragement to her colleagues, and compassion and care to her patients.

“Margaret knew Coronavirus posed a risk, and if she had wished she would have been perfectly justified in self-isolating, but she wanted to continue in her role, doing the job she loved. She embodied all that is best in those who work for the NHS.

“She was such a central figure in the life of the ward that that she will be greatly missed by all those who work there and by those who knew her across the Trust.”

One of Margaret’s grandchildren, Tom Wood – a senior charge nurse in an A&E Department – described his grandma as his ‘inspiration’.

He wrote: “She was a huge reason as to why I am a nurse today. She took huge pride in her work but was so humble. She embodied the nursing spirit.

“For anyone who worked with her or knew her, that spirit that we all saw and felt lives on in us.”