Essex: Nurse bids farewell after 42 years service

A VETERAN nurse is retiring after caring for patients at Essex hospitals for nearly 42 years.

Annie Cockerton started as a student nurse at Essex County Hospital on her 18th birthday on January 7, 1971, and retired yesterday, less than four months before she turns 60.

Although she is retiring, Mrs Cockerton has said this will not be the end as she returns to volunteer in the stroke unit at Colchester General Hospital, where she was deputy sister, in four weeks time.

Mrs Cockerton, who has spent the past 16 years caring for stroke patients, said: “As a nurse you’re put in a position that few people experience – it’s an enormous privilege.

“I’ve seen huge improvements in outcomes for stroke patients during my time in the specialty.

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“Many opportunities were missed in the past because we used to start rehabilitation so much later than we do today.

“It’s gratifying to meet former patients a few years down the line who can do so much more than when they were in hospital.”

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Mrs Cockerton, of Mersea Road, Colchester, has worked continuously since 1971, apart from two-and-a-half years away from the NHS to have children. She has nursed at hospitals including Essex County, Severalls, Black Notley, the old St Mary’s Hospital and Lexden Maternity Home.

She has experience of many areas of expertise including surgery, cancer, maternity and care of the elderly.

Before beginning her career in the NHS, Mrs Cockerton undertook work experience as a teenager to help her decide between a career in nursing or teaching.

And, although she chose nursing, she feels she has been able to pass on a wealth of knowledge and experience to younger colleagues within the NHS.

Mrs Cockerton is now looking forward to spending a whole Christmas at home with her husband Michael, daughters Abby, 33, and Emma, 36, and her 18-month-old grandson.

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