Today the NHS celebrates their 70th Birthday, and so does Sue. This is her story…

I was born just after midnight on the 5th July 1948 at High Terrace Hospital in Leeds.  Our family received some press attention at the time, including being featured in the local newspapers, which at the time must have been very exciting for a working class family.  Mum and Dad were interviewed and my Father, a true Yorkshireman, joked that had I been born an hour earlier, he would have had to pay for me.  It was a joke he affectionately carried on for the rest of his life, particularly as my cousin was born earlier in 1948 and he never let our family forget that he got me for free!

I also appeared on a couple of interviews for television as the NHS and I celebrated our 50th birthdays.  It has always been a special thing for me, to be so closely associated with the service, particularly as I dedicated my career to nursing.

I first found my passion for health care working as a nursing assistant after having my eldest children.  I loved it so much that I decided to embark upon my nurse training, working in Pinderfields and Field Head hospitals in Wakefield.  I knew I had found my calling. 

In 1974 and 75 I was awarded the Nurse of the Year accolades for all round nursing ability and was proud to ‘get my buckle’ and qualify in 1976 – it was no mean feat with a young family.

Over the years I’ve worked in many nursing disciplines but the work I’ve loved the most, and where I chose to specialise was supporting those with learning disabilities and profound, multiple physical difficulties.  I spent many years working at Meanwood Park Hospital in Leeds which opened in 1919 as a ‘mental deficiency colony’.  Despite moving along with the times, it always had a feeling of an institution and some of the people I cared for had lived there for most of their lives.

One of the most rewarding memories, and something that I will always treasure is my involvement  in helping to set up Chapel Fold, a bungalow in the community in Beeston where some of those who had been at Meanwood Park had moved to.  It was wonderful to see people living in their own modern home, with care completely focused around their needs and personalities.  I went on to work as the Support Manager for two such homes in Leeds and it was a job I really valued. 

It's so hard to choose any memories to pick out, I have loved every moment of my 40 year nursing career and was so lucky to be able to do a job that gave so much back to me.

I was sad to retire in 2012, my colleagues and residents gave me a surprise party and I cried!

I’m the NHS’s biggest supporter. The advancements in technology and medicine has been amazing, we are able to help people in so many incredible ways.  We are so lucky, particularly in the UK.  I feel so passionately about our service, free at the point of use and world leading.  But the back drop of this is crippling underfunding, which is so sad to see.  We really need to get behind the NHS and ensure that we can continue to enjoy such a privilege.