INTERIOR. DAY. A TRAIN.
A passenger train rattles through the idyllic countryside of southern France. Out a window, we see the Pyrenees Mountains off in the distance.
On the train, a young Australian woman, backpack and Lonely Planet travel guide, a long way from the family farm in Newlands Arm, exploring Europe for the first time.
Also on the train, a young French man, returning from a soul-searching week of hiking and reflection in the mountains.
Their eyes meet across the aisle. She speaks no French, and he, no English…
Sounds like the opening to some unlikely romantic movie, right?
This lovely scene was in fact the catalyst for a series of moment of love and life that brought that French man on the train, Yann Gardin, all the way across the world, to the little town of Bruthen, and Bairnsdale Regional Health Service.
Late last year, Yann was named BRHS Graduate Nurse of the Year, the latest milestone in a remarkable change in the course of his career and his life that actually began with that hiking trip in the Pyrenees.
“I wanted something else. So, I went up into the Pyrenees, to hike and spend some time thinking about what I wanted to do with my life.”
Born and raised in the Normandy region of northern France, Yann’s first career had been as a chef. But after 10 years in the industry, he began to feel that this was not the life for him.
“I just couldn’t see myself being a chef forever,” he said. “I wanted something else. So, I went up into the Pyrenees, to hike and spend some time thinking about what I wanted to do with my life.”
Alone up there, his epiphany came. Yann decided his next step would be to travel to Australia, to learn English and see a bit of the world.
He came down out of the mountains with a renewed sense of purpose and a clear goal. He got on that train. And then he saw a girl.
“It was like they say – love at first sight,” Yann remembers. “We just really connected.”
Which is particularly remarkable, given that Yann spoke no English, and she spoke no French.
“She had to make an action like a kangaroo, to tell me she was Australian,” Yann said, doing that little hop-hop charade every Australian knows.
For a man about to change his future, and looking for signs, the fact this lightning bolt from the blue was also from Australia was some kind of cosmic blessing for Yann that he was making the right decision.
The stars had truly aligned, and a few years later Yann and the Australian girl had built a life together here in East Gippsland.
And his dissatisfaction with being a chef had been replaced with a great desire to become a nurse.
After a few stop-starts due to the arrival of their two little boys (“the second was born the day before I started my grad rotation – I slept at the hospital the night before”), in 2020 Yann completed the East Gippsland Collaborative Graduate Nurse Program, with rotations in Tambo Ward here at BRHS, and at Omeo District Health Service.
And this week he began yet another journey of education – as a Registered Nurse in the Dialysis Unit.
Yann’s praise for the Education Team and the nurses that have mentored him is matched by their appreciation of his character and professionalism.
“Yann is a remarkable and humble man on so many fronts, both personally and professionally,” said BRHS’ Graduate Nurse Coordinator Kate Roberts, citing the energy and commitment he poured into both work and his young family.
They speak highly of him in Omeo, too, with Nurse Unit Manager Anne Walker praising Yann for seeking new opportunities to learn and contribute, and his obvious care for patients, residents and their families.
As we all know, it’s much easier to work hard when you love the work.
“Having personal contact with people is just amazing to me,” he said. “I love feeling like I make a difference to people, and that I am helping the community.”