This year marks the 75th birthday of the NHS – and North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust is honouring all its staff, including the many who have dedicated decades of service to helping others.

Here is just a selection of staff from Peterborough City Hospital who have notched up a staggering 179 years’ service between them.  

Lynda Whittle

As one of the Trust’s longest-serving members of staff, Lynda Whittle (diabetes inpatient specialist nurse) took her first steps in a career she had always wanted to pursue as a 16-year-old cadet nurse based in Stamford in 1976.

“Nursing was something that I knew I wanted to do, and I was determined to do it,” said Lynda – who has been instrumental in shaping service improvement for inpatients with diabetes during her career with North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust.

Living in a nurses’ home with other young nurses was fun, she recalls but the training was very hands on; spending only short periods in nursing school with the rest spent caring for patients on the wards.

“It was just a case of getting on with the job,” said Lynda. “I was always (and still am) very patient focussed, and I enjoy every aspect of nursing.”

Peterborough Matters: Lynda WhittleLynda Whittle (Image: North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust)

Driven by her passion for the role, Lynda trained to be an enrolled nurse, qualifying in 1980 and then engaged in more training to become a registered general nurse in 1993.

A promotion to deputy sister followed and Lynda developed a particular interest in diabetes, and through working with the community diabetes team and reviewing evidence-based research, Lynda was instrumental in putting together a business case  for an Inpatient Diabetes Nursing team – this was created in 2010.

Peterborough Matters: Lynda Whittle Lynda Whittle (Image: North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust)

“I knew that this would enhance our patients care, reduce length of stay of diabetes patients and provide much-needed education for staff; helping to make this change was a vision of mine,” said Lynda.

“The Trust is now one of a few in the country which provides a service seven days a week – even during the pandemic which was a hugely challenging time for our small, but supportive team.”

As Lynda celebrates 47 years’ service with the NHS – she has come out of retirement and enjoys a work-life balance which allows her to continue making a difference to patients’ lives while spending quality time with her own family.

Celia Kendrick

It was while visiting a family member in hospital and observing nurses at work that head of resilience and emergency preparedness, Celia Kendrick, thought: ‘I could do that!’

Celia enrolled into the Peterborough and Stamford School of Nursing aged 18.

Training became a mixture of school-based learning and putting the theory into practice on the relevant wards. Having qualified in 1983, Celia gained experience and an insight into a number of different areas, but it was A&E which became her passion.

Peterborough Matters: Celia Kendrick enrolled into the Peterborough and Stamford School of Nursing aged 18.Celia Kendrick enrolled into the Peterborough and Stamford School of Nursing aged 18. (Image: North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust)

Celia said: “It was fast-paced, and every day was different; you could be dealing with anything from small injuries that needed stitching, right up to saving lives. There is no greater feeling on earth than saving someone’s life.

“During my early days in the department, we had only one consultant (Dr Robin Glover), and the overnight doctor would go off shift at midnight, leaving just two nurses who would see and treat all the patients, write up the notes and leave them on the consultant’s desk to check in the morning.”

During more than three decades of working in A&E – as a staff nurse, sister and lead nurse – Celia has been involved with a number of trailblazing initiatives that have shaped training across the UK and globally.

A chance finding of a ‘major incident plan’ document tucked away in a ward drawer in 1983 paved the way for her interest and subsequent career turn in emergency planning.

She said: “I was fascinated and showed it to Dr Glover, and with his support, I became involved in emergency planning alongside my day job – re-writing plans, arranging exercises and study days, some of which were later to be adopted by hospitals across the rest of the country.”

In 2004, Celia was instrumental in producing and launching an initiative that has changed the way hospitals deal with major incidents.

The Hospital Major Incident Medical Management & Support (HMIMMS) course is now being taught all over the world – including in countries preparing for FIFA World Cup and Euro tournaments - delivered by Celia in her spare time.

Having spent more than four decades working in the NHS locally, Celia – who was appointed to her current post in 2016 - has seen more than most; implementing a decontamination procedure following the 9/11 attacks, working a 26-hour shift to ensure that the A&E department at the old hospital could close and reopen as a new Emergency Department at Peterborough City Hospital opening in 2010 and delivering a revised plan and response during the challenging pandemic.

She said: “Who would have predicted when I started nursing aged 18 all the amazing things I have achieved, people I have met and places I have visited in 44 years.”

John and Sandy Ellington

Husband and wife team John and Sandy Ellington met at work over four decades ago, albeit in less than-usual circumstances.

The couple are each celebrating 44 years with the Trust, and now work respectively as medical equipment manager and medical equipment co-ordinator.

Sandy fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a nurse and having completed her nurse’s entrance exam. She did her training at Peterborough District Hospital, starting as an enrolled nurse in theatres.

John passed his entrance exam for the Royal Navy aged 15 and joined as a medical assistant – leaving a year later to take up a role as a theatre technician and joined Peterborough District Hospital after completing his training.

Peterborough Matters: John and Sandy EllingtonJohn and Sandy Ellington (Image: North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust)

The two met whilst training – but not as colleagues! John was a motorbike accident patient, and Sandy walked by at the point of him grabbing the doctor by the tie and shouting in pain!

He asked her on a date, and they were married a year later in 1982. They worked together for the next 30 years in theatres.

In 2009 John was offered a position as a full-time medical equipment manager. After a serious injury to his ankle a year later, John came back to create a Trust-wide medical equipment team.

Just before they were due to retire, in 2020, they were both faced with the challenges of the pandemic. Sandy relocated from radiology and took over the key job of monitoring the oxygen levels across the Trust twice a day.

Alongside procuring equipment all over the country, with hundreds of items coming in to manage, both opted to continue their vital work to help the Trust function during this unprecedented time.

John said: “This hospital has given me everything in life – happiness, wealth, security and a wife. You don’t need anything else.”