Greater Manchester nurse who was the oldest in Britain calls time on 65-year-long career

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Norma was a nurse in the NHS for over six decades

Britain's oldest nurse has finally retired - after a stellar 65-year career. Grandmother Norma Newcombe, 80, started working as a cadet at a hospital for babies in August 1958.

She worked with Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for 40 years and has worked as a full-time school nurse since 1973. The grandmother has now decided to retire from her post to spend time with friends and family and to volunteer at the schools where she worked as a nurse.

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But modest Norma, of Wigan, Greater Manchester, says she is 'both humbled and proud' to have served the NHS.

She said: "I am both humbled and proud to serve such a wonderful institution founded by Aneurin Bevan which has serviced our country and its people, enabling them to have a better and healthier quality of life. I have worked in a job I love since 1958, including 50 years as a school nurse, and have certainly seen many changes. As a nurse, my main vocation was, and will always be, to care."

Norma celebrated her retirement with colleagues past and present and some of the children she has cared for throughout her career. She even wrote a poem for her co-workers, which said: "From 1973 to 2023, my journey’s end, and I’ve loved it all, every last road and bend."

Rachel Cheetham, a community public health specialist practitioner, described Norma a 'remarkable woman' and said she was 'the matriarch of the team.'

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Norma Newcombe with Sharon SwiftNorma Newcombe with Sharon Swift
Norma Newcombe with Sharon Swift | W.W.L.TeachingHospitals/NHS/SWNS

She said: "She is the matriarch of our team and is recognised as such in our community. Norma is truly a remarkable woman and has dedicated her life to care for others. I am proud to know her personally and professionally and wish her well on her retirement."

Sharon Swift, another public health practitioner who works with Rachel, says Norma will be missed by the 'three generations' of families that she's helped over the years.

She said: "Norma will be missed by all of the 0-19 service but we certainly wish her well with her next chapter. She holds a special place in the hearts of the children and families that she has helped over the years – many for three generations. Norma is a very special part of our school nursing family and is loved by all of the team for her heart of gold and her dedication to the school age population of Wigan."

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