Veteran nurse retires after 60 years of working in hospitals

Erica Balls, 80, retires after working as a nurse for 60 years.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Erica Balls, 80, retires after working as a nurse for 60 years.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

After helping thousands of patients, it is clear few can match 80-year old Erica Balls' love for nursing.

'It is very difficult to let go.'

So says Erica Balls when asked how she feels after retiring from a 60-year long career in nursing.

Since qualifying as a nurse in 1956, Mrs Balls has worked across four hospitals in Norfolk in a career that has lasted longer than most.

The dedicated nurse, who 'does not want any fuss' about her retirement, left the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital this spring after spending the last 15 years of her working life at the hospital's dermatology unit.

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'I really miss it already,' she said. 'I always wanted to be a nurse. It was my childhood dream. I'm not a person that wants people's attention – I've just enjoyed working as a nurse throughout my life. If I didn't then I wouldn't have done it.'

One memory which has always stayed with her occurred early on in her career when she saw a teenage patient reciting the Lord's Prayer while she was being wheeled to her operation. The patient did not survive. 'She was so ill and upset,' Mrs Balls said.

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Mrs Balls, of Costessey, has experienced a huge change in the nursing profession during her career.

When she began nursing, the staff were expected to hand-clean patients' bed-pans and help patients around the wards without any of today's modern equipment to help the hoisting and lifting. But Mrs Balls, having seen how the profession has evolved, said she would not choose to go into nursing if she was 18 again now.

'The nurses don't have enough time for patient care because there is too much paperwork,' she said.

Mrs Balls said she planned to see more of her family during retirement, who are all based around Norfolk.

She has three children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Do you know someone who has dedicated their life to helping others? Email

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