Forty six years ago, a teenage girl came to Sheffield to begin her nurse training. Yesterday, her nursing career within The National Health Service reached its formal conclusion. I have been with her nearly every step of a career that she is entitled to look back upon with pride and happiness for I fell in love with her when she was just twenty years old. We married in October 1981.
These words were written in one of the cards she received yesterday at the health centre where she worked for the past twenty two years:
To Wonderful Shirley!
Just wanted to say thank you for everything!
When I started here two years ago I knew nothing about being a practice nurse. You took me under your wing and taught me everything I know. Thank you for your patience, getting me through my smear training, answering my random questions and texts on an almost daily basis. You are an inspiration and a fantastic role model and I feel so lucky that I have had you to mentor me. You will be missed by all the team and by me especially.
Enjoy your precious time with your beautiful granddaughter. She is lucky to have you - you're going to have a blast!
See you soon for a few proseccos.
All my love,
And so that is it. The end of an era. Shirley is going to take some time out before deciding if she has really left nursing entirely. Of course, she will have opportunities to cover for absent colleagues or to deliver vaccinations from time to time but at the moment she's not sure.
I am enormously proud of what she has achieved in nursing in different locations - from Accident and Emergency service in our main city hospital, orthopaedic ward nursing and then on to practice nursing - serving three different communities. Along the way, she worked very hard to attain a nursing degree and a Masters having begun as a basic State Enrolled Nurse (SEN). And you know what - she always loved it - every step of the way. She was doing something that was undeniably worthwhile within an organisation that she was always very proud to serve - The National Health Service. It was a fantastic journey and she leaves without bitterness or regret. No one can doubt that she did her best.