THE Queen may have celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, but one Thurrock woman is marking her own 60 years in the job.
Jackie Reid, who lives in Grays, has been a nurse for the NHS since April 14, 1953.
The untiring pensioner officially retired aged 65, but within two weeks was back as an agency nurse, unable to keep away.
Jackie, 78, said: “I love my job. You have to be passionate, but it’s been wonderful. “One of my daughters worries about me, but I’m fine. I’m perfectly healthy and don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t work.”
She was a pioneer in setting up the first liaison nurse service between community and hospital nurses and went on to be the first in the country to run a specialist diabetes nurse service in 1973. She has remained in this field for 40 years.
Mother-of-two Jackie started her training at Orsett Hospital in 1953 when she was 18.
She said: “I even met my husband through my work. Bill was a patient at Tilbury Hospital to have his appendix out. It’s quite funny really.”
The couple married and moved to Scotland, where Jackie worked at Dunfermline & West Fife Hospital. She started to move into district nursing, before they returned south.
She did her district nurse training for nine months at the prestigious Queens Nursing Institute and worked in the community in Thurrock for ten years, while also finding time to have and bring up her two daughters.
Her calling was working with people with diabetes. Not long after her move to the field, her youngest daughter Michelle developed the condition aged 12. She said: “It hit me hard, but she’s good at dealing with it.
“Diabetics used to have a raw deal – they used to call me up as their district nurse to help teach them how to use insulin.
“I set up the first diabetes nurse service in Britain in 1973. People needed to be educated in diabetes. It’s a huge problem now.
“Now there are hundreds of nurse specialists and special courses. I suppose it was pioneering really.”
She has continued to work in Basildon and Orsett hospitals and in the community and since retiring is more regularly at Southend Hospital and in community clinics.
In six decades she has seen much change, but remembers the hard toll of being on call to patients 24 hours a day.
Jackie, who lost her husband three years ago, added: “We did such long hours, you had a list of patients you saw whenever they needed you, there was no shift change over.
“I used to live in Chadwell and cycled down to Tilbury, up the hills, on the train to Stanford and Corringham and then cycle back to Orsett and home.
“Then you could use your own initiative and it was more hands on. Now there are many more managers and you only have a certain amount of time for each patient. But that’s life, it changes.”
Jacqueline Totterdell, chief executive at Southend Hospital, pictured inset left, said: “Jackie is an outstanding nurse and still has the energy and drive that would put many half her age to shame.
“There are many thousands of patients with diabetes who have cause to be very grateful to Jackie for her years of dedication and expertise.”