Ward sister Pam, 68, retires after 51 years

A WARD sister who is believed to be one of the longest-serving nurses in the country has retired after 51 years.

Pam Hurcomb has worked in surgery, midwifery, paediatrics and intensive care during her varied career which included three spells of nursing in Africa.

The 68-year-old, of Keable Road, Marks Tey, retires this week from her position on Aldham Ward, an elective orthopaedic ward at Colchester General Hospital.

Mrs Hurcomb became a nurse because she enjoyed playing with dolls as a child and was so dedicated to her career that she took only six weeks off work when she had each of her children, now aged 32 and 30.

She worked twice in Zambia and once in Nigeria, as well as working in both private and NHS hospitals in the UK.

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Mrs Hurcomb said some of her most powerful memories were of her time in Africa, such as caring for children suffering from malnutrition after the Biafran war, rats running under hospital beds and bats hanging from malaria nets.

She said: “Nursing has changed so much since I started out, but I still get the same satisfaction and professional fulfilment today from caring for people and seeing them get better as I did 50 years ago.

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“Nurses these days are often given chocolates and biscuits by grateful patients and their relatives which, of course, is lovely, but for me there has been nothing better than seeing the smiling faces of those children I was able to help during my time in Africa.”

Mrs Hurcomb began her nurse training aged 17 in Dundee in January, 1959.

After qualifying and various nursing and midwifery jobs in Scotland, her first job in England was as a sister in Orpington, Kent, in the mid-1960s.

She also worked as a ward sister in London, spent 13 years at The Oaks private hospital in Colchester and helped to set up the private Nuffield Hospital in Ipswich.

She first worked in Colchester in 1974, when she joined Essex County Hospital as a sister in intensive care and recovery before leaving for her third and final time for Africa which was in Zambia from 1975 to 1982.

On her return she did shifts at Essex County Hospital as an agency nurse before rejoining the trust in 2002.

Mrs Hurcomb and her husband Peter, who is about to retire from work as an architect, have a five-year-old grandson.

Barbara Woodrow, Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust’s deputy director of nursing, said of Mrs Hurcomb: “Her passion and drive is impressive. She has a low-key, personable communication style and is highly respected by her clinical colleagues.

“Her hard work and dedication deserves recognition at the highest level. She will be a huge loss.”


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