Now, 57 years later, colleagues have said farewell to Shirley who has retired as one of the longest-serving members of staff at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
A special presentation was made to the 72-year-old on her final day as assistant general manager for non-clinical support services, based at St Luke’s Hospital.
Shirley, who was born in Bradford, began her career on her 16th birthday, November 18, 1960, when she signed up as a cadet nurse with the former Bradford Fever Hospital in Leeds Road. Three years later, she became a student nurse at St Luke’s School of Nursing, graduating to a staff nurse position in 1966 on the acute medical wards at St Luke’s Hospital, followed by becoming a student midwife in the hospital’s maternity unit.
She served as a ward sister for 18 years, from 1967 to 1985, when she became a project manager for individualised patient care and the introduction of nursing records across the whole of the Bradford district. She then became a senior nurse manager.
Shirley has played a leading role in a number of key NHS projects including Project 2000, which involved nurses attending university for their training and therefore leaving gaps in the workforce. As project manager, she prepared a pathway to upskill the then nursing auxiliaries to fill the places of student nurses on the wards. Shirley worked with both regional and national teams to develop a national vocational qualification.
As education and training manager, she worked for the Trust to become an accredited centre to deliver a management training programme with the Open University and the Institute for Health Service Management, as well as to become an Investor in People organisation.
She retired from full-time work in 2002, moving to North Wales but has continued to work two days a week, setting up a small department looking after training and staff development for the Trust’s facilities staff.
Shirley said: “This is actually my second retirement and I would just like to slip out quietly. When I retired in 2002 and moved to Wales, I didn’t expect to be travelling back to Bradford but they were very persuasive! Luckily I have sisters who live locally so on my working days, I have taken turns staying with them.
“I have loved my time in the NHS and seen many changes. When I first started work, it was a 44 hour working week and my first pay was £14 per month. As nursing staff we were entitled to free meals and when I was training I had to live in the nurses’ home with a very strict sister in charge. The doors were locked at 10pm on the dot but there was the odd occasion when we were a bit late back and had to climb in through the windows!
“The wards had 44 beds in two neat rows either side, there was no day room and visiting was strictly one hour. I can remember the ancillary staff strike of 1972 when the police and army personnel became ambulance drivers and volunteers came to help out on the wards.
“I also recall the Halsbury report in the 1970s when nurses’ pay went up by 30 per cent. It was great. I’d never had so much money and I didn’t know what to do with it at first!
“I have so many happy memories and my time with Bradford hospitals has brought me many lovely friends and colleagues, who have been a constant source of support throughout my time here. I shall really miss them – although I will be keeping in touch.”
In 1998, to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the NHS, Shirley and her husband, Les, were invited to attend a garden party, hosted by The Queen at Buckingham Palace.
Now a widow, Shirley has one son, Michael, a former podiatrist with Bradford Teaching Hospitals, and in her retirement she plans to spend time with him at his home in Ireland, as well as playing golf and going sailing with her brother in Greece.
“Living in Wales, I also sing in two choirs including a cancer charity choir, and we perform regular concerts for holiday makers. I really enjoy my singing.”
Chief Nurse, Karen Dawber said: “I would personally like to thank Shirley for her enormous commitment, enthusiasm and the support she has brought to the Trust during her many years here and for the legacy she will be leaving behind. She has been a dedicated and valuable member of our staff and we all wish her the very best in her retirement.”