One of Norfolk’s longest-serving nurses, Pauline Simms, looks back on a career spanning almost half a century following her retirement
10:29 26 July 2012
One of Norfolk’s longest-serving nurses has retired after almost half a century of nursing.
Pauline Simms started her nursing career in 1964 and has worked for the mental health trust, now called Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, for the past 20 years.
She retired last week from her final post as staff nurse at Reed Ward, part of Hammerton Court, a new dementia intensive care unit next to the Julian Hospital in Bowthorpe Road, Norwich.
She said: “I remember back on my very first day as a nurse how excited I was, and I felt just the same amount of excitement on my very last day.
“Nursing has changed a lot over the years. We are now focused more on patient choice and autonomy, which I think has been such a positive development in nursing, and particularly mental health.”
Mrs Simms decided on her career as a young child. “I remember sitting in accident and emergency at Leeds Infirmary when I was 10 and just thinking ‘this is what I want to do when I grow up’.
“One of the many highlights of my career has been the opportunity to work with such a diverse staff group. I loved learning from and sharing with them and together contributing towards improving the lives of people who are sick and vulnerable.”
During her long career, she has also worked in orthopaedics at Pinderfields Hospital in Yorkshire, at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, in mental health care in Oldham, as a district nurse in Manchester, as a warrant officer in the nursing section of the armed forces and as a staff nurse in Singapore.
Mrs Simms, who lives in the Bracondale area of Norwich, said: “When my husband died in 1998 my colleagues at Rebecca House in North Walsham and Carlton Court in Lowestoft were just wonderful. I want to say a big thank you to them as well as to everyone I have worked with over the years.”
Now the mother-of-two is planning a motor home road-trip around Britain with her partner and is going on an arctic expedition to see the Northern Lights with her daughters in 2013. In addition, despite nursing for 48 years, she also has plans to become an NHS bank staff member to take on ad-hoc nursing shifts where time allows.
Despite a busy career, Mrs Simms has brought up two very successful daughters, one of whom is about to become a senior registrar at St Thomas’ Hospital in London and the other is an independent short film producer who also works for The History Channel.
“The hardest thing about my career was leaving my children to go on shift,” said Mrs Simms. “Things are so much better now with the introduction of family friendly working – it is a great step forward in building a happy work force.”