Nurse Margaret retires after half a century of caring for others

31 May 2018

After a career in health services spanning more than 50 years, Registered Nurse Margaret Stevens officially retired from the NHS on 31 May 2018.

But rather than put her feet up and enjoy a well-deserved retirement, she intends to volunteer for charities which support elderly and frail people, about whose care and dignity she remains passionate.

Margaret retires from her role at NHS Swale CCG just days after her 70th birthday, and in the same year that the NHS celebrates its own 70th birthday.Margaret was exactly 50 days old on the day the NHS came into being – 5 July 1948.

Childhood dream

Margaret started her nursing career at the age of 17 and has worked at many hospitals and care homes across London, Bristol and Kent, living out her childhood dream.

She said: “I always knew I wanted to be a nurse from the age of six. I went to a grammar school, and they wanted me to be a doctor, but I stayed firm and said no, I want to be a nurse. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I have always worked with such wonderful people, who also cared so much about their patients.”

Memories that stay forever

Margaret has many memories about the NHS in its early years, and with the NHS 70th birthday celebrations gearing up for 5 July, it’s a timely occasion to share them.

She said: “I can remember names of patients who I looked after all those years ago, and their families. I remember the first time a young patient of mine died, an 18-year-old with leukaemia, and I cried with his family. I had cared for him for many weeks and these memories stay with you forever.

“Also, we used to have to do a lot of manual handling – turning patients over on our own without help – and climb to the top of the bed rails to dust them. Today, things have changed and there are much better conditions and safety policies to encourage and protect health and wellbeing for NHS staff.”

50 years of caring

Margaret, who lives in Gillingham, has worked in the CCG’s Continuing Healthcare team since 2002.

She said: “Being able to work until I am 70 has been really good, but I know that now is the time to finish. I’m very proud of the fact that I can still give valuable contributions after 50 years. Over and above, I owe a lot to the team I’ve just left. I’m proud of the people I worked with.”

In her retirement, Margaret intends to enjoy time with her family, practice her hobby of singing and volunteer for local causes where she can continue to support elderly frail people.

Inspiring young people

Of course, after such a rewarding career, Margaret hopes young people will continue to follow in her footsteps; and in its 70th year,  the NHS encourages more young people to choose the NHS as a career.

Margaret said: “It’s our duty to encourage new people to join the NHS – people who will endeavour to keep patients at the heart of our work. One thing that we should never lose is to listen to the person we’re caring for and to give the right training to staff to be able to do the best they can. That is what the NHS was set up to do.

Find out more about the NHS’s 70th birthday.