Nurses who delayed retirement to work through pandemic finally set to say goodbye to profession they love

Two dedicated nurses who delayed their retirement to work during the Covid-19 pandemic are finally taking the break they deserve.

Between them Carole Kimberlin and Betty Davis have clocked up more than 75 years of loyal service to the nursing profession.

They both spent the past 20 years working for the ear, nose and throat (ENT) team at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

Carole, from Rotherhithe, became a nurse after joining the Royal Navy in 1973, aged 17.

She travelled the world working on the ships and spent time based in Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus, caring for the officers and their families.

The 66-year-old said: “I wanted to be a nurse from an early age and I had an exciting career with the British Navy and learnt a wide range of skills.

“I’ve seen some pretty horrific wounds, but it stood me in good stead for my NHS career when caring for patients who needed head and neck dressings.”

Carole left the Forces after several years of service to start a family. She worked at King’s College Hospital and Lewisham Hospital before joining St Thomas’ Hospital in 2001.

The mother-of-four, who has five grandchildren, said: “People always talk about the forces as a close knit community.

“They become part of your family because you depend on them for your life when you’re in dangerous situations, and you spend your down time socialising with them, too.

“When I came to Guy’s and St Thomas’ it was like being in a family again. When you have good management and you’re part of a good nursing team you don’t want to leave.

“I have been blessed to have had an amazing career and have loved every minute of it. The wonderful nurses and doctors in the ENT team are the reason I stayed so long.”

Betty, from Gillingham in Kent, qualified as a nurse in January 1985 and took up a post in the elderly care ward at The Royal London Hospital, before joining the British Nursing Association, which led to her taking agency shifts at St Thomas’ Hospital and Guy’s Hospital.

Betty Davis

She then went on to study for a degree in psychology in Devon in 1989, but continued to travel to London so she could carry out shifts at Guy’s Hospital.

The 60-year-old, who took up a permanent position at the Trust almost 16 years ago, said: “Throughout my career I’ve met amazing colleagues and patients and been inspired by them. The thing I take away with me is everybody is unique and you get out of life what you put into it.”

Despite contracting coronavirus in March, Betty returned to the front line a month later when she had recovered.

She said: “The Trust has looked after me so well over the years so I wanted to give back and do my part.”

Carole is looking forward to spending time with her family and cycling, Betty is not ready to give up working completely and plans to take on some bank shifts.

She will also continue with her poetry writing and work at her local church and within her community.

Pictured top: Carole Kimberlin

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