Dolly Gilbert, 68, from Horley in Surrey began working as a nurse at the age of 20 when her wages were just £36 a month.
The medical worker, who is married to former supermarket department manager Barrie, with whom she shares two grown-up daughters, retired on Thursday [31 January].
“I’ll miss my colleagues and patients very much,” she said. “It’s the end of an era.”
Dolly, who originally hails from Guyana in South America, arrived in the UK on Christmas Eve in 1970.
She rejected a student nurse placement in Brooklyn, New York in favour of
Dorking Hospital and within 18 months had qualified as a state enrolled
nurse before quickly rising through the ranks to Registered General Nurse
(RGN) and Registered Nurse Child Brand (RNCB) grades.
The keen table tennis player, who represents Crawley-based club the
Foresters, then met her husband in 1972 before giving birth to her first daughter in 1975.
“Back there wasn’t very much maternity leave,” Dolly recalls. “I went back
to work when my first child was six weeks old, and three months after my
second daughter was born. I changed my shifts from days to nights so that I
could look after them.”
During the 1990s, Dolly worked as a sister on the children’s ward at
Crawley Hospital before specialising in paediatric and adolescent diabetes
19 years ago.
In 2016 her diabetes team was a finalist in the BMJ Awards, which recognise the inspirational work done by doctors and their teams in the NHS and private practice.
“Dolly always went above and beyond to make a difference, especially
showing empathy and compassion to the children and young people she cared for at the hospital,” Jane Dickson, chief nurse at Surrey and Sussex
Healthcare NHS Trust, said.
“She was a valuable and inspirational member of staff, who will be greatly
missed by the teams she worked with. We would like to thank Dolly for her
commitment to care and wish her all the best in her retirement”
Dolly, who has volunteered at her local Oxfam shop for the past 30 years, and will now also assist charity Grocery Aid in her spare time, added:
“I’ve always enjoyed helping people and have met some lovely families over the years. I’m so touched by all the thank you letters and the kind messages
I’ve received. Some patients have said they don’t want me to leave but I
feel like it’s finally time for me to go. I’ll really miss everyone but
I’m looking forward to travelling a lot more, playing more table tennis and bowls and spending more time in the garden.”
Local ambulance service seeks publics help this Easter
South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) is seeking the public’s help ahead of what is expected to be a busy Easter Bank Holiday weekend.
The Trust has planned ahead for the expected increase in demand but is urging people to use the service wisely and to seek alternatives to 999 if not faced with a life-threatening or serious emergency.
Over the course of the Easter weekend in 2018, staff in SECAmb’s Emergency Operations Centres in Crawley and Coxheath answered in excess of 8,000 calls. Across the region the NHS 111 service also faced high demand handing some 25,000 calls in the four days.
During any period of high demand, SECAmb works hard to prioritise its response to patients with the greatest need. Anyone not facing a serious or life-threatening emergency is likely to wait longer for a response. Those not facing a serious emergency are urged to consider alternatives to 999 including calling NHS 111, visiting a walk-in centre or speaking to a pharmacist.
The Trust is also reminding people to order any repeat prescriptions and check opening hours of their GP surgeries and local pharmacies. Details of local services can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search
SECAmb Executive Director of Operations Joe Garcia said:
“We know that Easter is a busy time of year for us and the wider NHS. With schools off and a long Bank Holiday weekend we are anticipating an increase in demand.
“With this in mind we’re urging the public to remember to only dial 999 if it’s they’re facing a life-threatening or serious emergency. We will be working hard to reach all patients who need a face-to-face assessment as quickly as possible but prioritising our response to our most seriously ill and injured patients.
“People can really help us by remembering to make use of alternatives to 999 including calling NHS 111, where staff will also be working hard to provide people with the assistance they need.
“As ever, and throughout this period, our staff will be working extremely hard to get our patients the help they need. I’d like to thank every member of staff and all our Community First Responder volunteers for their continued hard work and commitment.”