The friendly face who greets patients and visitors at North Walsham Hospital has retired.
But receptionist Shirley Turner has bowed out quietly after the Coronavirus “lockdown” prevented her presentation lunch taking place.
Retiring North Walsham Hospital receptionist Shirley Turner.
Instead she said goodbye to colleagues on Friday and hopes to return once the pandemic is over for a belated farewell gathering.
She is also set to make occasional “comebacks” as a temporary “bank staff” member, particularly during the pandemic crisis.
Shirley started at the hospital 39 years ago back in April 1981, helping with ward admin for three hours on a Saturday morning. Previously, before having her two sons (now 46 and 43) she did office work at Jeckells sailmakers in Wroxham.
Her hospital role grew to cover health centres at Cromer, Sheringham and Fakenham as well as Northfield Road at North Walsham.
Shirley went full time 25 years ago, and switched to reception when the new hospital was opened in 2012. Her valuable, unstinting, behind-the-scenes work was recognised with an “unsung hero” award at an NHS Reach for the Stars event.
“Community hospitals like this are brilliant. Ours has changed a lot. When I started it had maternity and minor injury units. I have enjoyed supporting the various departments but loved meeting people and have got to know many of the regulars,” she said when the Friends caught up with her just before she left – to spend more time looking after her garden and six grandchildren.
Shirley is a big fan of the Friends, who have helped make people’s wait in reception more pleasant by buying a radio for background music.
The Friends sent her farewell flowers, and some gardening vouchers. Friends chairman Keith Jarvis said: “Shirley has been a wonderful welcoming figure when people first come through the hospital front door. She has also been a big supporter of the Friends, and helped steer people towards our donation box. We will miss her.”