Between them, they’ve been caring for the sick and vulnerable in Southwark for over eight centuries – they’re the winners of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Long Service Awards, Kirsty Purnell writes.
Thirty staff were honoured at the December 1 ceremony, all of whom have served at the Trust for at least 25 years – taking their combined service to over 800 years.
Some such as Faith Kelleher, health visitor in East Dulwich, have been doing the rounds for a lot longer, though.
“I’ve been qualified as a health visitor for 31 years now,” she said, “I took early retirement last year because I needed to slow down but I still work on the bank [of cover staff] because I knew I didn’t want to stop health visiting.”
Faith has the nickname of ‘Granny Health Visitor’ among her charges and says that in some cases, she’s supported three generations of family. “It’s nice to see clients who I met as kids and are now grandparents,” she said.
“I enjoy seeing children and families grow up,” said Faith. “Watching people come out of difficult situations and move on is my favourite part of the job.”
“I really enjoy working in Southwark,” said Faith. “I love the diversity of the community I support in my role. Working with so many different people is very rewarding.”
Fellow honouree Peter Swift, a paediatric intensive care charge nurse from Bermondsey with 25 years of service under his belt, reflected upon the progress he’d seen during his career.
“It’s been amazing to see the advances that have been made in paediatric intensive care,” he said. “Shortly after I started my job at Guy’s and St Thomas’, we launched a retrieval service on a shoestring budget. We would send out small teams in taxis to district hospitals across the south east to stabilise sick children, returning to base in a local ambulance.”
“Today, the South Thames Retrieval Service operates 24 hours a day, deploying specialist teams to transfer ill children. It’s been exciting to be part of something which has grown so much over the years.”
Speaking at the awards evening, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Chairman Sir Hugh Taylor said: “We’re here to celebrate people who have given 25 years and more to the Trust and its patients. This evening is above all a tribute to public service. With more than 800 years’ service represented by the staff here this evening, tonight is a remarkable occasion.”