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Retiring maternity worker reflects on half a lifetime helping others at Dudley NHS

A Black Country maternity support worker stepping down after more than 30 years has been reflecting on decades of friendships, hard work and fun.

Carole Hickman said she was thankful for the love and support from everyone after her retirement
Carole Hickman said she was thankful for the love and support from everyone after her retirement

Carole Hickman has begun a well-earned retirement after 34 years of working for the Dudley NHS Foundation Trust, with the 65-year-old given a big send-off by colleagues and friends on May 25.

It marked the end of a career in the NHS which saw her join the service as a domestic cleaner in 1989 at Wordsley Hospital - she had worked in retail, but wanted a job which suited her family.

She said: "The send-off I had was amazing, with so many people I had worked with coming to the party and lots of gifts including money and flowers. I really enjoyed working in maternity as it's a lovely place to work and they've been so kind to me.

"I started at Wordsley as a domestic cleaner as I had always worked in retail, but wanted a job which suited my family, so got the job and worked evenings and, over 10 years, mornings as well when the kids went to school.

"I loved it, but wanted a bit more patient contact, so I applied for a job on maternity and while I didn't get the first one, they called me up to say I was second on the list and there was another job that they asked me about, so I said yes and got the job as a maternity support worker."

Carole Hickman worked for Dudley NHS Foundation Trust for 34 years.

Ms Hickman said the 24 years of working in maternity, including 18 years of working at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, had been a rollercoaster, with amazing moments such as being there for the reaction of new parents to seeing their children for the first time.

She said there had been ups and downs, with the Covid-19 pandemic being a particularly stressful and hard time, but said it had been worth it and, if she was 20 years younger, she would do it all again.

She said: "The jobs are good jobs as you're not a midwife, but you have a lot of training and do a lot of work to help the midwives with chores, such as the discharge chats with patients, and they do a lot of amazing stuff.

"I think the NHS has definitely changed over the time I've been here as it's very busy, but a lot of things have improved such as shifts that are family-friendly, allowing midwives and other members of staff to do their shifts around childcare.

"It still has its challenges and it's very busy with the different rules and regulations, but I think there's been a lot of improvements over the years."

As Ms Hickman begins retirement, she said she would take away great memories of her time with the NHS and offered words of thanks to everyone she had worked with.

She said: "I have got on with so many people over the years and I just wanted to thank you all for the send-off as I will never forget it.

"They are all just amazing people who work so hard in so many different roles and I will miss all of them."

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