Gary Blacker

Gary is a paramedic science graduate of LJMU with over two decades of experience in the ambulance service. He has now made the transition to become a full-time member of staff at the university, teaching the next generation of health professionals.

Born in 1970 in Wandsworth, Southwest London, Gary's childhood, abundant with love and shared experiences, shaped his compassionate approach to life and work. As the oldest of two children, Gary fondly recalls a time when life was simpler - three TV channels, no internet, and the absence of mobile phones. Despite these limitations, life was vibrant and engaging due to the shared activities within the family. It was during these moments that Gary developed a love for games and, in a very amateur way, began experimenting with card tricks, a hobby he continues whenever the opportunity arises.

The decision to leave the ambulance service, where Gary had cared for countless individuals over more than 20 years, was not taken lightly. However, his extensive involvement supporting the paramedic programme for many years, coupled with his prior academic experiences at LJMU, facilitated a seamless transition into his current role as the Clinical Skills tutor within the simulation department of the School of Nursing and Advanced Practice.

Gary finds particular satisfaction in teaching essential skills and conducting classes on softer skills, such as communication. His dedication to students transcends structured work hours, often sacrificing lunch breaks to assist smaller groups struggling with certain skills. Basic life support (CPR) is one of Gary's passions, and he conducts classes for anyone within the university. Gary aspires to teach CPR to every member of staff, with a future goal of extending this life-saving skill to everyone in Liverpool and Merseyside.

In 2018, Gary had the transformative experience of working at the Buhinga Regional Hospital in Fort Portal, Uganda. This experience not only influenced his practice as a clinician but also profoundly shifted his outlook on life. The staff and patients in Uganda, despite lacking many basics taken for granted by the NHS, exuded vitality and approached life with smiles. Witnessing the skill of the nurses and doctors caring for people with significant illnesses and injuries reinforced Gary's belief that kindness and compassion are often more vital than other aspects of healthcare. These principles form the foundational basis for every session Gary teaches.

“As a third-year student, I have never come across a lecturer or clinical skills tutor with such passion for facilitating learning.”

one of Gary’s students

In his relatively short time at LJMU, Gary has created numerous happy memories, with the pinnacle being his nomination for the Outstanding Teacher (Faculty of Health) Award at the 2023 JMSU Student Experience Awards ceremony. Winning the award was an honour, but the nomination itself, acknowledging Gary's dedication and influence on students, remains a cherished memory. The diversity, empathy, and kindness of the students profoundly impact Gary's life, making it fulfilling to have a small influence on them during their university journey. The students' recognition of Gary's commitment to helping them achieve their goals surpasses any award and motivates him to continue giving as much of his time as possible to them.

One of Gary’s students who nominated him for the award said: “As a third-year student, I have never come across a lecturer or clinical skills tutor with such passion for facilitating learning. With the anxiety of nursing and entering the nursing career with the current circumstances, he has instilled a refreshed sense of drive in me as a student that has made me excited about my future and has made me realise my true potential as a future nurse.

“He listened and understood what we wanted to gain from our sessions and used this to support our weaker areas. Throughout my three years, he has only been present as a facilitator for a small part of it, yet it feels as though he has made a HUGE impact on my attitude towards the career I have ahead of me. Gary deserves to be recognised for his award, as I am aware that many of my student peers have felt the same about his teaching techniques and excitement for our futures.”

Being included in the list of LJMU's distinguished figures for the Bicentenary is a humbling experience for Gary. The university's rich history and vital role in the city make being part of the LJMU community a pleasure and privilege. This recognition further inspires Gary to contribute to the training and development of future generations.