“You’ve done a fantastic job. I’ve been involved in things you’ve done in the past and it’s been a pleasure. Thank you for your service. There are not many people can say they’ve done what you’ve done.”
Those are the words of North East Lincolnshire’s mayor as he praised the achievements of Teresa Jackson, a nurse who is celebrating 60 years of service with the NHS with no signs of stopping yet.
Speaking about her 60 years’ service, Tereasa said: “It’s been my pleasure. I’ve loved it. How many people can say they love their job.
“I’m lucky. My brain still works and physically I can still do the job. I’ve worked with some amazing people. They are saving lives constantly and they don’t get the recognition they deserve. It’s a team. That’s the bottom line, it’s team work.
“I wanted to do 60 years and that was on the first of September, but I’ve decided to stay a little longer. I just love my job.”
Teresa’s first day at the old General Hospital in Grimsby was on 1 September 1963, staying in nurse’s accommodation there.
“Everything smelled of furniture polish. It was all wooden. That smell evokes such memories,” remembered Teresa, adding: “We were allowed five things on the dressing table. Anymore and Sister would swipe them off.”
Mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Cllr Ian Lindley, invited Teresa to a civic reception at Grimsby Town Hall to thank her for her service.
Having worked in the NHS himself for 33 years, the two shared memories of their time at the hospital in Grimsby and spoke highly of the people they worked with.
Teresa wanted to be a nurse from the age of nine. She said:
“Growing up in the small village of South Kelsey, we rarely saw an ambulance. When we did, all the kids would run out and say, ‘hold my collar, pinch my nose, I hope I never go in one of those’. But, I used to say ‘hold my collar, pinch my nose, I hope I go in one of those – as a nurse’.”
Working life was very regimented when Teresa started as a cadet nurse, with separate tables in the mess room for cadets, year one students, year two students, sisters and more senior staff.
“If a first-year student was passing through a door and a second-year student approached, they had to stand aside and hold the door for them,” remembers Teresa.
“Cadets were a large part of the nursing service back then. When I was a cadet, we were taught to carry out so many duties, nurses of today would be horrified, such as suturing and stomach wash outs.”
At 23, Teresa was the youngest sister appointed at the time to a General Surgical Ward. She said:
“In 1974 I changed roles and worked in the Special Care Baby Unit for nine years on night duty. Missing adult nursing I returned to Scartho Road hospital, remaining on night duty as this worked well with family life. I later became Night sister and went on to become the night site manager.
“I’ve been so lucky. Whatever job I’ve applied for, I’ve got. I’m so lucky and grateful to whoever it is up there guiding me.
“As there were no junior doctors as we know them now, I trained to be a clinical nurse practitioner working under the guiding hand of Mr. Henry Pearson.
“He didn’t know what to call me. He couldn’t call me by my first name as that was unprofessional, so it was TJ, a name which sticks with many even now. When he was retiring, he convinced me to try stoma care for two weeks, I did, and I’m still there.”
Like Teresa, the Mayor only ever wanted to work in a hospital. He started as a trainee on a Youth Training Scheme aged 16 in Sunderland. He said:
“When my YTS ended, I went into hospital voluntarily. I didn’t want to do anything else other than work in a hospital.”
He got a job as a Trainee Operating Department Assistant at 18 and started training in 1982. The Mayor added:
“In 1990 I was with an agency and they said can you do two weeks in Grimsby. I came, did two weeks and loved it. In the end, I was here six months with an agency. Then the hospital asked if I wanted a permanent job and I’ve been here ever since. I still do 20 hours per week.”
He thanked Teresa for her long service and presented her with the Civic Crown as a token of gratitude from the borough.