Bury St Edmunds: Nurse retires after 38 years of dedicated caring

A WARD sister at West Suffolk Hospital is looking forward to a well-earned rest after caring for generations of children.

Alix Harben, who lives in Bury St Edmunds, has worked at the town’s hospital, mainly on the Rainbow Ward, for the past 38 years.

She qualified as a nurse when she was 24, having previously trained as a nursery nurse, and has seen many changes during her career.

“The whole culture of the service we provide has altered dramatically,” said the 60-year-old.

“The technology and the equipment that we use have changed very much over the years.”


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Such are the advances that children who would once have spent weeks in hospital may now only need to be on the ward for a matter of hours.

“We try and make every child’s routine as specific for them as possible,” she said.

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“Our department’s philosophy is patient-centred care so, in consultation with families, we are generally able to tailor aspects of care to suit the child.”

Alix was brought up in Mildenhall, and trained as a nurse in Bury.

She completed her additional children’s nursing training in Peterborough. She now cares for the children and grandchildren of the young patients who she looked after at the start of her career.

In retirement, Alix is looking forward to taking life more easily. She enjoys writing and is working on the words for a short musical.

She said: “I’ve been here for a long while.

“The hospital is a wonderfully friendly place and it’s lovely knowing so many people.

“Among the things I hope to do are altering the alarm on my alarm clock and resetting the central heating to come on later.

“I also aim to continue to multi-task, for example coffee, crossword and radio, or cooking, radio and ironing!

“Most importantly I’m looking forward to hearing all parts of the Book of the Week on Radio 4 and going to the theatre! I hope to be doing shifts for the nursing bank at West Suffolk Hospital if needed too.”

Digi Cave, paediatric unit manager at the hospital, said: “Alix is a very unique person. She is very knowledgeable, thoughtful and generous.

“We will miss her. She’s like a mum to everyone – not just to the children but to all of us.”

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