Two members of loyal staff were honoured by Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust after clocking up a century of NHS service between them.
Senior Sister in Gynaecology outpatients Margaret Unitt and Specialist Biomedical Scientist Graham Beards both celebrated half a century with the organisation.
Graham recalled the horror of patients being rushed to hospital following the Birmingham pub bombings in October 1974, and the happier memory of Princess Margaret opening the Clinical Haematology department in 1980.
“I have seen so many changes in the NHS – it’s great to see more patients surviving cancer now,” said Graham. “I have mostly always been based in the labs and when I first started we had 20 staff members and 20 specimens to test each day. We know have the same number of staff but 2,000 specimens.”
Margaret and Graham were two of more than 150 loyal members of staff honoured at the Walsall Healthcare Long Service Awards earlier this month. Both were the subject of surprise video tributes which included a visit from Interim Chief Executive Professor David Loughton CBE. The tributes were then shown to staff virtually.
“The thing that struck me was the great enthusiasm they still have for their jobs, which was inspiring,” said David. “They are still hungry to make a difference and a positive impact on the people they serve.
“The significant contribution these two colleagues have made to the NHS, our patients and fellow team members over the years cannot be underestimated.
“Both exemplify our values and we thank them for everything they have done and the difference they have collectively made, not only to our patients, but to generations of staff who have benefitted from their knowledge and skills.”
Colposcopy Nurse Specialist Julie Oliver paid tribute to Margaret, saying: “She has worked tirelessly. Margaret has a kind friendly approach that not only puts her patients at ease but also her colleagues. She always puts the patients and service first, helping to drive the service forward.”
Senior Sister Tanya Grainger said of Graham: “He is an extraordinarily experienced and knowledgeable member of our team. Graham is an expert in his field and an excellent mentor to new and junior staff who is always willing to pass on his knowledge with patience and professionalism.”
David led the tributes for the 153 staff, who were celebrating 20, 30, 40 or 50 years’ service with the NHS.
Ninety-six members of staff celebrated 20 years with the NHS, 46 were recognised for 30 years, eight staff have served 40 years and three were honoured for 50 years’ service. The staff honoured have a combined total of 3,770 years’ service with the NHS.
All staff who were acknowledged received certificates and a pin badge. Those who have served 20 years and 50 years received vouchers for £100 and those in the latter category were also presented with an afternoon tea gift hamper each.
“We have 153 colleagues that have served 20, 30, 40 or 50 years with the NHS and that’s incredible,” said David.
“Your commitment to Walsall Healthcare Trust has been amazing; we have lots of hugely committed people.
“I would like to thank them on behalf of the population they serve to improve the healthcare of the people of Walsall.”
Staff members with 40 years’ service were honoured with testimonial slides from colleagues read out by members of the executive team.
These included Community Midwife Myra Westwood, Genito-Urinary Consultant Dr Joseph Arumainayagam, COPD Clinical Nurse Specialist Karen Dawkins, Senior Community Nursery Nurse Deborah Civil, Theatre Practitioner Yolanda Parkes and Specialist Nurse, Acute Kidney Injury Anne Grace.
Guests were then treated to a trip down memory lane with slides recounting what happened in the news 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago.