In September 2022, Pilgrims Hospices said goodbye to one of its much loved nurses, Mandy Lawson, as she retired to spend more time with her children, grandchildren and her variety of animals.
Mandy from Minster, who trained as a nurse in 1975, leaves a legacy of 47 years in nursing and said: “It has always been a privilege to be a nurse and to care for those in need.”
She explained: “I retired from my role in the NHS more than 11 years ago; however, after just three months, I was missing the profession so much, I decided to look for a new position and returned to my beloved nursing.
“I’ve worked in surgical nursing wards, A&E and many others, also spending the last five years in the NHS as a community matron. In 1993, I left hospitals and worked for many years as a district nurse in the Canterbury, Ashford and Thanet areas and travelled a great deal, which I enjoyed very much.
“I have seen many changes throughout my career. When I started nursing it was on what was known as Nightingale Wards, they were very long with beds either side, we wore frilly hats and starched pinafores, and the IVs were given in glass bottles. A far cry from our modern equipment in today’s healthcare services.”
We are passionate about the care we provide and our team has won awards for projects about changing practices in areas of pressure wound prevention.”
Mandy continued her career as a registered nurse when she joined Pilgrims Hospices and worked on the ward at the Thanet hospice, before specialising as a Tissue Viability Nurse and now holds the position as team lead.
“Managing patients’ comfort and being able to manage pressure ulcers and wounds is vitally important. We are passionate about the care we provide and our team has won awards for projects about changing practices in areas of pressure wound prevention.”
Mandy added: “I’ve had an amazing career in nursing, and enjoyed my time working with the hospices. Nursing in palliative care has been a great experience and one that I would not want to change.
“I was a veterinary nurse with a background in dairy farming, and worked on a dairy farm in Upstreet part-time when I was at school. I gained a place at agricultural college, that led on to me doing my veterinary nurse training. However, I didn’t enjoy veterinary nursing. My mum was a nurse, she told me there were interviews taking place for nurse training and why didn’t I go for it… I got on the course and did my nurse training, hands-on at Margate hospital, and the rest is history.
I have also experienced Pilgrims Hospices care from the side of a patient too. My mum, Doreen, was cared for at Pilgrims Hospice Thanet around 14 months ago. Our family will be eternally grateful for the support and care offered by Pilgrims; everyone from carers, catering staff, support services and volunteers were amazing.
“I’m a busy lady, and I’m not sure how I’m going to feel about not being a nurse, it’s been my life for so long, it will be a new experience.
“I’m looking forward to spending more time with my children, and grandchildren. It will be lovely to spend more time on my hobbies, one of which is singing in a local choir the ‘Village Voices’ in Minster where I’ve lived for 20 years. We usually sing for fundraising, and we’ve raised many £100s for local charities and causes. I have fun with a local dance group, the Mid-Life Movers and I’m also a member of the local Salvation Army, so there’s plenty to keep me busy.”
Alongside the many activities, she’s a keen animal lover and owns a horse and a small flock of sheep. Mandy explained: “I have a friend who breeds and shows livestock, and I took an interest in the preparing, showing and generally enjoy the farm life, I thought I might be a farmer when I was young. When I was 50, she bought me my first sheep, a beautiful Jacob, a very handsome black and white, I’m now the proud owner of a small flock, which I look after on a small holding in Manston.
“I’m also really interested in conservation and rewilding, and hope to volunteer to help Wildwood with the new bison project. I’ve already undertaken some ecology study days at Wildwood ready for retirement. I’m an early to rise person, as I have the animals to attend to, so between them and the grandchildren I will be keeping busy.”
Mandy went on to say, “I have also experienced Pilgrims Hospices care from the side of a patient too. My mum, Doreen, was cared for at Pilgrims Hospice Thanet around 14 months ago. Our family will be eternally grateful for the support and care offered by Pilgrims; everyone from carers, catering staff, support services and volunteers were amazing. Dad cared for Mum at home after she had a stroke, Pilgrims’ Hospice at Home team were amazing in her final days at home. Pilgrims welcomed us with open arms when she needed the hospice for her final care.
“This year we attended the Sunflowers Memories day to remember her, it was indeed a very special day, which we will treasure in our memories.”
Hospice Care Week is an annual event where we recognise and celebrate Hospice UK and hospice care nationwide. It’s an opportunity to show the world the value of support, of care and of what matters to us as individuals at the end of life when we need it most.