Torbay nurse vows to carry on working after celebrating 83rd birthday
Published 07/09/2016 | 15:46
One of Britain's oldest nurses has celebrated her 83rd birthday - and vowed to carry on working.
Monica Bulman started work aged 19 in 1952 - just four years after the National Health Service was founded.
Since then she has clocked up 64 years working for the NHS, treating tens of thousands of patients.
The 83-year-old now works 15 to 20 hours a week on Hutchings ward at Torbay Hospital in south Devon as part of the specialist outpatient surgical clinic team for endoscopy.
Mrs Bulman began her career as a State Enrolled Nurse at Eltham Hospital in south London.
Two years later she moved to St John's Hospital in London, where she qualified as a State Registered Nurse, which is now known as a Registered General Nurse.
"I love my job, each and every part of it. Being a nurse brings me so much pleasure and keeps me on my toes," she said.
"The NHS has been a huge part of my life and I wouldn't want it any other way - I'm always happy at work, I just don't have down days when I'm at work."
Over the years she has seen many changes, including to the uniforms.
"Nursing has changed a lot over the years, especially the technology, which is wonderful - unless it breaks down," she said.
"Although we now have much more paperwork to complete, it is fantastic that with the technology we can now look up our patient's X-rays and test results at the click of a button, rather than having lengthy waits for the information.
"Another change that amuses me is that years ago the theatre nurses, who were all gowned up, had to manually thread the needles for surgery, whereas now these all come in packs, pre-threaded.
"The uniforms have also changed considerably although I have to admit I did prefer our old uniforms, they were much more glamorous.
"I bought a belt to wear with my uniform when I qualified in 1957 - I still have and wear the very same belt to this day."
After qualifying Mrs Bulman stayed at St John's and worked as a staff nurse as well as a theatre nurse until she left in 1959.
Since then, she worked at a number of different hospitals until moving in 1968 to Torquay with her husband and two sons and joining a nursing agency.
In 1978, Mrs Bulman started to work at Paignton Community Hospital in casualty as well as for outpatient departments.
Reaching retirement age in 1998, she was asked to work casually as a 'bank' nurse at Torbay Hospital for a few weeks and nearly 20 years later she is yet to leave.
"I loved my student training at St John's Hospital," Mrs Bulman reminisced.
"This was my favourite time. After being on night duty, the Sister used to give us students a cup of cocoa every morning after our night shift.
"She was our 'mother hen' and guided and nurtured us through our training as well as our personal lives.
"I have never been unhappy at work and have so many wonderful memories and friendships that will be with me forever.
"My job has kept me going and helped me through some of the toughest times in my life. I don't know what I would have done without my colleagues and a job where I can dedicate myself to caring for others.
"I still have no plans to retire and I hope to keep going for as long as I am able."
Not one for taking it easy, Mrs Bulman is incredibly active and fit, and regularly attends the gym and spinning classes at Torbay Leisure Centre and puts much younger attendees to shame.
She is also an avid reader as well as a keen member of a local skittles club.
She said: "I do like to keep fit and healthy, but I also like to be 'glam' - I enjoy going to my local beauty salon as well as doing all my hobbies.
"Most of all though I love spending time with my family and my grandchildren; this is what I enjoy the most."
Mairead McAlinden, chief executive of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Monica really is an inspiration to us all.
"Not only is she an outstanding nurse, but she leads by example by keeping active, fit and helping others - as well as being a very glamorous lady.
"She exudes all of the qualities that a good nurse should possess and is a shining example of this Trust's commitment to caring, excellent service.
"I am sure I speak for everyone at the Trust when I say we are incredibly grateful for Monica's continued dedication, we are so proud that she is a member of our staff and we hope she will continue to provide her nursing skills to the people of Torbay and South Devon for many more years to come."