Matron set to retire after 42 years working in the NHS in Norfolk

Chris Hawkins, modern matron with Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C) at the Priscil

Chris Hawkins, modern matron with Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C) at the Priscilla Bacon Centre for Specialist Palliative Care, who is retiring after 42 years in the NHS - Credit: Archant

A matron, who has dedicated her working life to caring for patients and has rubbed shoulders with royalty, is set for retirement after 42 years working in the NHS.

Chris Hawkins, who volunteered at the Jenny Lind Children's Hospital in her late teens, is modern matron with Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C) at the Priscilla Bacon Centre for Specialist Palliative Care, which is part of Colman Hospital in Norwich.

The 60-year-old, whose last day at the NHS trust is today, said she looked back fondly on her career, which has spanned four decades.

Mrs Hawkins began her training as a state registered nurse in October 1971 at the United Norwich Hospitals, before working as a staff nurse on an acute medical ward. She started working in the community in 1975, later training as a district nurse and worked in a variety of roles across the county. In 2000, she helped to set up one of the country's first walk-in health centres, which was based at Dussindale and provided a nurse-led service treating minor illnesses and injuries. While at the walk-in centre, Mrs Hawkins was involved in developing an outreach nurse practitioner service in Norfolk prisons, and she continued her interest in prison health services as head of healthcare at Norwich Prison, before joining the Priscilla Bacon Centre in January 2011.

The mother-of-three and grandmother-of-six said: 'Nursing was always something I had wanted to do. While I was at school I used to volunteer in the casualty department at the Jenny Lind, helping with simple dressings and with the cleaning. The Priscilla Bacon Centre was later built on the same site – so it's a coincidence that I've finished my career in the same place that it started.'


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Mrs Hawkins attended a royal garden party at Sandringham last year and led a tour of Priscilla Bacon Centre during a visit from Prince Charles.

'I have thoroughly enjoyed everything I have done during my career. I've been very fortunate to have been given lots of opportunities to gain new experiences, especially during times of change. This has given me a variety of skills which have helped me during my career. The clinical and medical developments have given people more choice of treatments and conditions are now diagnosed at an earlier stage and are more successfully treated,' she said.

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