A MILITARY nurse has scooped a prestigious award from the university where she was training.

Defence School of Education student Corporal Jessica Byrne, who is based at Catterick Garrison, has been named as Birmingham City University mental health student of the year.

The 25-year-old, who is a member of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) is based at the Duchess of Kent Barracks in the garrison where she works in the Defence Community Mental Health department.

She is about to graduate from Birmingham City University with an overall average of 84 per cent, having achieved 100 per cent in one of her modules.

Her achievements have also been recognised at a national level when she was nominated for the Student Nursing Times' mental health nurse of the year.

She joined the Army in 2004 as a 16-year-old and attended the Army Foundation College in Harrogate from where she joined the Royal Electrical, Mechanical and Engineers Corps (REME) and completed tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, in 2011 she chose to become a mental health nurse after one of her friends was medically discharged after being injured and losing several colleagues.

She said: "I decided I would do something positive and make a difference. I thought if I could make a difference to one person's world then the decision to change career would have been right.”

he took up her present post in April and said it is fast-paced but she is helping to break down barriers for stigma surrounding mental health.

Cpl Byrne added: “We have come a long way and we have learnt a lot from the operation in Iraq and Afghanistan and we are better able to deal with the condition.”