Sue Clark from Canterbury has enjoyed a long career in nursing; starting out as a children’s nurse, she then moved to caring for elderly patients. Finally, Sue spent the last 15 years of her career at Pilgrims Hospices, supporting adults approaching the end of life.
Now, aged 65, she is looking forward to retirement with a sense of gratitude and appreciation that has come from working with hospice patients.
Originally from Bracknell, Berkshire, at 16 years old Sue became a nursing cadet. She trained in orthopaedic and general nursing at Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children, qualifying in 1978.
Sue moved to east Kent with her best friend from nursing school, whose father managed the local cottage hospitals and got Sue a job at Herne Hospital. She also worked at Nunnery Fields Hospital in Canterbury, and further afield in south-east London, before moving to Kent and Canterbury Hospital in the 1990s.
She said: “I initially wanted to be an air stewardess! But I really loved caring for people and became interested in children’s nursing. It’s funny – I started out working with children and ended up at the other side of life.”
At Pilgrims, we care for the patient and the whole family. It’s not like in hospital; we can get involved, we have the time to get to know families.
In between, Sue did some community nursing work with Marie Curie, supporting patients with terminal illnesses. This was her first experience of working in palliative care, and in 2006 she joined Pilgrims as a Registered General Nurse (RGN).
In 2019, she gave up her registration and spent her last two years of service working as a Healthcare Assistant (HCA).
Sue continued: “At Pilgrims, we care for the patient and the whole family. It’s not like in hospital; we can get involved, we have the time to get to know families. We’re also able to provide aftercare for loved ones, too.
“I love being hands on with basic nursing care, and the HCA role enabled me to do even more of this so I really enjoyed it.”
Working at Pilgrims, you realise that life is so short. I just want to enjoy retirement with my husband and make the most of every moment.
Kate White, Head of Nursing at Pilgrims, said: “To dedicate 50 years to nursing is a huge achievement and shows strength of character. I cannot imagine how many patients and their families have been cared for by Sue in all this time!
“We wish her all the very best for a well-deserved retirement and thank her for her commitment to Pilgrims.”
Now that she has retired, Sue is looking forward to catching up with friends, spending time with family and planning a few mini-breaks.
She added: “Working at Pilgrims, you realise that life is so short. I just want to enjoy retirement with my husband and make the most of every moment.”