‘It is wonderful looking after people’ - Former nurse looks back on her career as she reached 90

Mrs Doreen Philcox, who grew up in Yarmouth, and trained as an NHS nurse from 1948 -1952 is celebra

Mrs Doreen Philcox, who grew up in Yarmouth, and trained as an NHS nurse from 1948 -1952 is celebrating her 90th on November 19. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

She started her nurse training the year the NHS was born.

Mrs Doreen Philcox, who grew up in Yarmouth, and trained as an NHS nurse from 1948 -1952 is celebra

Mrs Doreen Philcox, who grew up in Yarmouth, and trained as an NHS nurse from 1948 -1952 is celebrating her 90th on November 19. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant

And on her 90th birthday, Doreen Philcox, from Thorpe St Andrew, has been reflecting on her long and happy career in the organisation which she said has gone through many changes.

Mrs Philcox, grew up in Great Yarmouth and studied at Northgate School in the town and Great Yarmouth School for Girls.

During the Second World War she was evacuated to a village between Melton Mobray in Leicestershire and Nottingham and then to the market town of Retford in Nottinghamshire.

After completing her School Certificate aged 16 from Great Yarmouth School for Girls she went to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge for three years to complete her nurse training with around 23 other women.

Mrs Doreen Philcox, who grew up in Yarmouth, and trained as an NHS nurse from 1948 -1952 is celebra

Mrs Doreen Philcox, who grew up in Yarmouth, and trained as an NHS nurse from 1948 -1952 is celebrating her 90th on November 19. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN - Credit: Archant


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The teenager had to live on site and during her rigorous and hard training and she spent three months on all the wards across the hospital under the watchful eye of matrons.

“It was very regimental,” Mrs Philcox said.

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She admitted to not enjoying all parts of the training, but added: “Looking back at my career, it has been a nice life. I would say to anyone going into nursing, enjoy your time. It is wonderful looking after people. You are very privileged to do that.”

After passing her exams in 1952 she went to Rochford Hospital, near Southend, where she focused on midwifery and Mount Vernon Hospital in Northwood, Greater London, and Harrow.

MORE: The fascinating history of nine Norfolk hospitalsBetween 1962 until the 1980s she worked as a health visitor in the community, visiting many families, mothers and running school clinics, in Middlesex.

Mrs Philcox said: “I really enjoyed the health visiting and going into people’s homes. If a mother is healthy, a family is healthy and the country is healthy.”

She added the health service had evolved, including a change in how community work was carried our since the 1970s, and said there were a lot more opportunities available to health workers.

The 90-year-old yoga fan praised the care she received at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital following a recent fall and liked the informality of how staff spoke to each other and patients.

Mrs Philcox, who retired in 1987, felt sorry for anyone making decisions during the coronavirus pandemic.

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