A plaque unveiled at the opening of Croydon's new state-of-the-art A&E department yesterday pays tribute to two beloved nurses who passed away in recent years.

Hassina Fowle joined Croydon University hospital in 1974. Despite being diagnosed with life-threatening ovarian cancer in 1997, she continued to work passionately, until the illness claimed her life in 2014 when she was 64.

Audrey Cross joined the hospital as a maternity department auxilliary in 2015. A Thornton Heath resident, she moved to the Emergency Department where she worked until her death from stomach cancer in 2015, aged 63.

Audrey’s husband Peter Cross was there to witness Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock unveiling the tribute with daughter Natalie, son Simon and granddaughter Isla.

He said: “Friends at Audrey’s memorial described the huge void that she has left behind. At the same time, we always smile when we think about her. I probably shouldn’t say this about a clinician - but she was infectious!

“She relished her early career in maternity. Then, when her young nephew suffered a serious head injury, she wished she could help and discovered a new passion for emergency paediatric care.

“She loved singing and had a magical way around young children. Being around babies gave her great joy too. This runs in the family, as our daughter Natalie photographs new-born babies professionally.

“I’m so proud of everything Audrey achieved in her life. This lovely plaque shows what a great influence she continues to be.”

Hassina Fowle moved to the UK from Trinidad in 1971, meeting her husband Derek during her training at Mayday Hospital, the former name for University Hospital.

Derek was at the unveiling with children Richard, Amanda and Sarah Jane.

He said: “Hassina was a wonderful, cheerful wife and everything you could want in a nurse. She is still a huge and overwhelmingly positive presence in our lives. She loved working at the Hospital and was famous for her attention to detail, ensuring everything worked like clockwork. I believe she was impossible to hoodwink!

“Towards the end of her life she kept fighting the ovarian cancer, which had spread to her lungs, so that she could see our son Richard qualify as a nurse. She continued holding on until our granddaughter Imogen was born, just six weeks before Hassina passed away.

"In her final days Hassina was unable to smile because of medication she was taking but, somehow, she still smiled when she held Imogen in her arms a final time. The next day she entered a coma. There are so many memories to cherish.”

Hassina’s daughter Amanda Fowle worked at the Emergency Department for six years until earlier this month, walking in her mother’s footsteps by becoming a Junior Sister there.

She said: “We all loved our mother so much. Working here, I was inspired by how fresh she is in everyone’s memories. This lovely plaque is a testament to two wonderful women.

“Hassina went on holiday every year with many nurses who still work here. She would often bring delicious hot Trinidadian food into work as a treat too, which everyone loved.

“But most of all, here in the Hospital, she is remembered as a brilliant leader in a brilliant team.”