Brenda retires after 60 years in the NHS
A Rickinghall grandmother of 19 has retired from the NHS after 60 years of dedicated service.
Brenda Pask, who turned 80 on May 4, began training as a nurse aged just 16.
In her long and varied career Brenda has worked across hospital wards, as a district nurse, with outpatients, in schools - and has tried her hand at politics, serving 12 years as a district councillor and four years on its Environmental Health Committee.
But it was nursing that kept her inspired.
“All my life I have wanted to nurse,” she said.
“I can remember when I was a youngster having a camp on the farm I was living on. We would have tea with the soldiers and they always went away with bandages on their heads.
“The best thing about nursing is being able to help people - when you have a patient who was really poorly and you get them though difficult times and see them recover.
“It was the caring aspect of it I have always loved.”
Brenda left school on July 7 1951 and began her nursing pre-training on August 1. At 18 she began her full training and was qualified in 1956.
Brenda worked on the children’s ward, the eye ward, female medical unit and female orthopaedic ward at the old West Suffolk Hospital.
In 1957 she married her husband, Reg, who she met through his mother who she treated at the hospital. He sadly passed away in 2008.
While they started a family, raising seven children, Brenda kept working as a district nurse, joining the Red Cross as a volunteer and working night shifts at Stowlangtoft Hall.
At the same time, the couple got hold of a council-owned farm in Rickinghall and began rearing pigs, turkeys and chickens.
After a family emergency in 1974, Brenda stepped away from nursing for a year but was asked back by the doctors at Botesdale Surgery to work in the dispensary.
“I then became a school nurse, a ‘nitty Nora’, and also worked as a health visitor looking after elderly people.
“Then just before my 70th birthday, in 2005, I had an accident on the farm and thought I probably should stop.”
But Brenda continued working for the NHS at Botesdale Heath Centre writing up patient notes - until she retired for good this year.
“I had set this target of working until I was 80. I was 80 on May 4 and on May 7 I only did one set of notes but it still counts.”
Although Brenda has offically retired, she is still actively involved in the community - organising transport for elderly people wanting to use the health centre.
“I’m still keeping my hand in it,” she said.