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Starship's 'living angel' Julie Smith recognised for 20 years of service with well deserved trip to Commonwealth Games

Starship’s "true living angel" Julie Smith has been recognised for her incredible 20 years work in the hospital's emergency department with a trip to the Gold Coast to watch the Commonwealth Games.

Ms Smith was nominated by friends, colleagues and patient's families for Barfoot and Thompson's Starship Champion, and was chosen out of 153 other nominees.

"I was just so blown away, honestly anyone that works for Starship they give their heart and soul, we're not there for the money clearly," Ms Smith told 1 NEWS.

"We just love what we do, we love helping not just the children, but the families cope with what's going on."

She's been described as a strong family advocate, and incredible teacher, amazing with children, dedicated, loyal, hardworking and warm.

The mum of four knew she wanted to work with kids after a paediatric placement on a children's ward in Northland.

When she moved back to Auckland working for Starship was a no brainer.

"The team that I work with is just amazing. Starship is such an awesome place. There's such an aura around it, people are drawn to it, they trust us there, and they just know that they're in safe hands once they walk in the door."

But for Ms Smith, it was when her best friend Susan's five-year-old daughter suffered from a heart infection, that the importance of her work truly sunk in.

"Susan and I totally saw Starship from the other side. How awesome Starship Foundation is looking after families in crisis mode," she said.

It was that terrifying experience that made Susan want to nominate Julie for the award.

"I don't think I would have survived without her to be fair, and I don't think Emily would have. She was the one pushing for them to keep looking and figure out what was wrong with her."

"Julie was my advocate. Because I was in such a high status stress, my daughter just went to school, fell asleep and didn’t wake up and they didn’t know what was wrong with her.

"So Julie came to the hospital and was liaising with the doctors, and fighting for the care that she needed and then got transferred to Starship. Julie was just there for me the whole time."

Now over in the Gold Coast both feel as though they've come full circle.

Susan Domett and Julie Smith.
Susan Domett and Julie Smith. Source: 1 NEWS

"We just talked about it last year that we wanted to come to these games."

While here they're looking forward to the watching the athletics and netball finals.

"We're huge Silver Ferns fans – we have the faith."