Sonographer retires after 46 years of NHS service in west Suffolk
- Credit: Archant
A sonographer has said goodbye to colleagues after 46 years of distinguished service to the NHS in west Suffolk.
Maureen Cunnington joined Newmarket Community Hospital in 1974 following a training stint at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.
Maureen, who was born in Barrow, near Bury, but now lives in Fordham, left school at 18 to train as a student radiographer at West Suffolk.
A pupil at Newmarket Secondary Modern School, Maureen had achieved academic success and was advised by teachers to apply to join the Bury-based hospital pathology lab as a technician.
“It’s quite a story,” said Maureen. “I knocked on the door of the lab, and a gentleman came out. I explained why I was there, and he asked me where I was at school.
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“When I told him, he replied, ‘we only take people from grammar schools’.”
The shocked teenager tried to argue her case, telling the man she had the right credentials, but he would not budge and told her to “try X-ray”.
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She did as suggested and despite not having an appointment, was welcomed by the team – who proceeded to show her around.
Maureen and one other student radiographer were the first to begin the two-year training scheme at West Suffolk, spending three days a week working on the job and two at the Ipswich School of Radiography at the Anglesea Road hospital.
Once qualified she stayed in Bury for a year before moving across to Newmarket in 1974, then a general hospital with 285 beds, a casualty department, operating theatres and nursing school.
Maureen stayed ever since, working as a radiographer until the 1980s when she undertook further training at Central Middlesex Hospital to become a sonographer, and did her work using ultrasound.
Her career has been “one part along the journey in a person’s life”.
“That’s the most rewarding part of the job,” she said. “You can tell someone their longed-for baby is healthy, or find out what is wrong with someone and set them on the right path for treatment.
“Of course there are good and bad days but you feel you have made a difference in someone’s life.”
Maureen says she will miss her colleagues at Newmarket, but is looking forward to going on long walks in north Norfolk with her dog.
At her retirement reception, superintendent radiographer at Newmarket Craig Wicksted told Maureen: “Normally, when an employee leaves a place of employment, he or she is asked to hand in their ID badge, uniform and parking permit.
“In your case, I would like you to leave all of your knowledge, experience, and the huge respect you have gained for yourself and, in consequence, for the department.
“This respect has come from your colleagues, the students who have learnt from you, and certainly from the referring clinicians, but most especially from the patients and expectant mums you have served so well.”