The NHS is celebrating its 75th birthday tomorrow, so we’re championing local staff and volunteers who are doing exceptional work within the community.

One remarkable story comes from a rising ice hockey star from Darwen, who has shared how she balances representing Great Britain and working in an East Lancashire hospital.

Abbie Culshaw trains at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital’s Fracture Clinic to become an Orthopaedic Plaster Technician.

When’s she not providing patient care and treatment she swaps the clinic for the ice hockey rink where she recently played in the Ice Hockey Women’s World Championships.

Ice hockey is a fast sport, which involves working as a team and having the ability to make quick decisions, which Abbie says are assets she’s been able to apply to her role in ELHT’s Fracture Clinic.

She said: “My role at ELHT and that as an ice hockey player have some similarities and each helps the other.

“They both involve working in a team environment, require motivation and determination to succeed and communication is a key factor – there is no “I” in team and we are all in it together.

“Thankfully, my role at ELHT is less slippery and doesn’t involve skates!”

Abbie’s role involves applying and removing plaster casts, braces and assisting the orthopaedic consultants in providing patient care and treatment.

She continued: “I love how every day is different. Each patient brings a different set of problems to solve, and I love providing patient centred care and helping to empower them with knowledge to aid in their recovery.

“My determination to succeed and my love of ice hockey helps keep me motivated both on the rink and in clinic and it is a great form of stress relief.”

Abbie was 14 when she first represented GB at under 18s Junior Women level, and after she turned 18, she joined the GB women squad.

She currently captains the women’s club team in Whitley Bay where they have just been crowned undefeated league champions, as well as playing for Bradford in the men’s league.

Abbie said: “I see a lot of sports related injuries so I have learnt a lot about the bones, muscles and loads more in the body which helps as a competing sportsperson.

“My colleagues are amazing and so supportive both on and off the ice! I represented GB in the World Championships in 2018, 2019 and 2022 where we won a gold medal!

“Whenever the games are on TV my colleagues tune in – some even travelled to Nottingham to watch me at the Olympic qualifiers in 2021.

“I feel lucky and honoured to be doing both a job and sport I love.”