I started my training to become a Registered General Nurse (RGN) three weeks after my 18th birthday, on Monday 5th May 1980 at the Royal South Hants Hospital in Winchester.
I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my training, even though we were terrified of matron! I am still in touch with two of my ‘set’, all these years on. An abiding memory is whilst doing night duty, I could look down from the windows of the long, Nightingale style wards over into the grounds of Winchester prison, which was the opposite side of the road, and watch the wardens exercising the Alsatian guard dogs!
Once qualified, I moved to Gloucestershire and worked on the medical ward at Moreton in Marsh Hospital, then to Oxford at the Radcliffe Infirmary and John Radcliffe. I moved back to Cirencester and worked on Avon Ward there, then went off to Gloucestershire Royal to do my midwifery training in 1990. Once qualified, I worked as a midwife in the special care baby units at Princess Margaret Hospital, Swindon, and Cheltenham General Hospital.
Once my own children had started school, I became a Practice Nurse at Newton Road Surgery in Cheltenham, then a School Nurse – we got the school holidays off in those days! I then went on secondment to the Youth Offending Service as a physical health nurse. The next move was to join the Safeguarding Children Team at Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust (Now Gloucestershire Health and Care), and 3 years ago I moved across to Adult Safeguarding, where I am today.
It has been real a rollercoaster ride, many ups and downs over the last 40 years – laughter, tears, pain, and healing – but it never ceases to be a complete privilege to help people when they are often at their most vulnerable, along with wonderful colleagues, who keep you going even on the hardest days.