Ross Kemp becomes emotional discussing NHS frontline staff
Joanne Birkinshaw, who works around the clock at an A&E and then spends her spare time volunteering at a vaccination hub, said the stolen items included jewellery from her mum, who died six years ago. She has now penned a letter to the burglars, telling them: “I feel like I have given so much and I have now had everything taken away.”
Joanne, 54, who last week ran seven miles to get to and from work at Barnsley Hospital, South Yorks, because snow stopped her from driving, said some of the items stolen at the weekend meant more to her than a lottery win.
She said: “I was doing a 12½-hour shift and then I came home and when I walked in I saw just devastation.
“If you gave me a million pounds it could not replace any of what has gone. I lost my mum and I have now lost some of my mum’s jewellery and things that mean a huge amount to me that are worth nothing to anybody else.”
In her letter posted on the internet she writes: “I don’t think I or anyone else deserves the devastation and upset you have inflicted on me. I have truly worked my a*** off this year in the job that I love. My colleagues and I at the hospital have had the worst year ever.
“I have worked extra and done long hours to cover shortages covering for colleagues who caught Covid and to care for the increase in patients we have had.
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“I haven’t had a day off sick myself the whole year and have worked tirelessly throughout.
“All this and, like everyone else, not able to see loved ones and friends.
“I’m not special and I am part of a great team and hospital trust and I really am proud of what we have overcome.
“More recently, in the past few weeks, I have volunteered to work extra to be part of the vaccination hub.
“I did this to help all of us in our community to get back to normality.”
She added: “I don’t know your story and you didn’t know mine. I would give you anything you needed. The stuff you stuffed into your bag and pockets were my memories of my 54 years. The items cannot be replaced by any money.
“Jewellery that is sentimental to me because of who bought it and some that was my mum’s that is all I have left of her.
“I wasn’t great before today with everything that has happened in the past year but, well done, you have broken me.
“If somehow you read this, please let me have my things back. There must be another way for you.”
The NHS hero thinks her home in South Yorkshire was targeted because she was a key worker. She said: “It would be obvious that my house is empty, in darkness and has no car on the drive.
“These people should have been in their own house, they are breaking the rules without even breaking into my house.”
The raiders entered her home by hurling a rock through a door window to smash glass and climb through.
Joanne, who has two children and two grandchildren, says she is desperate for the stolen items to be returned before the thief or thieves have time to sell them on.
She added: “I really wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
She also said she cried “non-stop for 24 hours” when she discovered the break-in.
She explained: “They went through absolutely everything. They have taken the television, a mobile phone and my purse which had all my bank cards and driving licence in it.
“I feel like they have stolen my identity.
“I just want my important things back. I can replace a TV but not something my mum bought me.”
Then she said: “This really could not have occurred at a worse time. I’ve had to miss two days’ work sorting everything out – that’s two days that the hospital, my colleagues and the patients desperately needed me.”
The fearless key worker, who has been a nurse for 25 years, said that despite her hurt and anger she has been equally “overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers” who have come forward with offers of help.
They include local builder Dave Stones, who went to her home on Saturday night to make it secure.
Joanne said: “I’ve had people get in touch wanting to sort out the structural damage and offers from electricians of putting in CCTV.
“My friends and family have been amazing too, and it’s so humbling.”
South Yorkshire Police confirmed they are investigating and urged anyone with information to get in touch.
Crimestoppers can be phoned anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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