Saffron Walden Hospital nurse retires after 42 years on the night shift

PUBLISHED: 11:27 15 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:52 15 May 2020

Carol Dawson with her partner, Malcolm Start

Carol Dawson with her partner, Malcolm Start


Nurse retires after 42 years working night shifts

A nurse who had worked night shifts at Saffron Walden Hospital for 42 years was greeted with applause by her daughters and granddaughters as she changed out of her uniform for a final time.

This summer Carol Dawson’s family have four reasons to celebrate. Carol’s retirement last week, her 64th birthday next week, her daughter Danielle’s 30th birthday on VE Day - and the birth of Danielle’s first baby, Margot four weeks ago.

Because Carol, from Newport, has been working on a ward where patients had Covid, she had only see tiny Margot through a window - but as she left the hospital and her family emerged to surprise her, Margot’s onesie had “My Nanny is a hero” written on it. Danielle and Margot were there with Carol’s daughter Jo and Jo’s daughter Naomi.

Danielle said: During all the doom and gloom we feel this is something to celebrate.”

Carol said: “It was a complete surprise. They didn’t want me to walk out of the hospital after over 40 years with no one there.”

Carol’s mother was a nurse and she first applied to work at the hospital when she was 19.

“I was interviewed and the sister said: ‘You’ll have to change catheters’ I thought, no I won’t be able to do that. But (two years later) after I’d had a baby, I thought yes I could.

“I rang up and I was interviewed on the Tuesday and started on the Friday. When I started there were seven wards and 56 regular night staff. In 42 years, I’ve only had two full Christmases off. I worked Christmas Eve and the evening of Christmas day.”

Carol said she was looking forward to spending Christmas with her family and going to sleep at night.

“Now I’m nearly 64, I would like to go to bed at night like normal people.”

Carol said she was not the longest serving nurse at the hospital.

“My colleague, June Start has been there 46 years, so we have almost done 90 years between us.”

Danielle, a special needs teacher at the Granta School in Linton said after Carol had isolated for two weeks because she has been working on a ward with Covid-19 her mum was will finally be able to give baby Margot some long-awaited hugs.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Saffron Walden Reporter. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Saffron Walden Reporter