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Nurse Lesley of Barningham celebrates 60 years of service



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A nurse whose illustrious career has seen her travel across the globe has reached 60 years in the profession - and she’s still going strong.

Lesley Williams, of Barningham, who joined the profession as a trainee at 18, said the job was as much about ‘privilege’ and ‘opportunity’ than anything else.

That opportunity has presented itself through trips abroad to France, Tanzania and the Seychelles where she has trained staff and volunteered.

Lesley has travelled to France, Tanzania and even the Seychelles for work throughout her career Picture by Mecha Morton
Lesley has travelled to France, Tanzania and even the Seychelles for work throughout her career Picture by Mecha Morton

“Nursing is a privilege and it is an opportunity, and when you are caring for people, there are lots of opportunities,” Lesley said.

“If it means going to the Seychelles then that’s fine,” she added.

Lesley’s eight-week trip to the Seychelles in 1986 saw her teaching and training nursing staff in the beautiful archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Lesley (bottom left) with fellow trainees at the Royal Free Hospital in 1961. Picture by Adrienne Williams
Lesley (bottom left) with fellow trainees at the Royal Free Hospital in 1961. Picture by Adrienne Williams

It is but a small part of what she has achieved during her 60 years, having completed a masters in 1987, when she was a senior nurse at West Suffolk Hospital, being awarded the Florence Nightingale Travel Scholarship in 1992, which saw her travel to France and research how they care for their elderly, and working at a hospital in Tanzania, where she has returned several times since her first trip in 2014.

The masters she undertook at the University of East Anglia entailed her studying about the relationship between music and memory recall, something she applied to teaching her student nurses.

Lesley said she was forever ‘in debt’ to Dennis Goble, then manager at West Suffolk Hospital, who sponsored her for the masters, and let her study one day a week.

All these opportunities, Lesley said came about partly because she was so ‘enthusiastic’ for the role, whether that be through publishing articles in the nursing press, or her general efforts teaching or on the ward.

Lesley with husband Michael, who died in 2004, at the University of East Anglia in 1987 receiving her masters degree. Picture by Adrienne Williams
Lesley with husband Michael, who died in 2004, at the University of East Anglia in 1987 receiving her masters degree. Picture by Adrienne Williams

In her own words, back then she was ‘a bit of a nuisance’.

Lesley has been working as a parish nurse through the coronavirus pandemic and is currently based from home where she advises patients - she said that sometimes entailed praying with them.

Asked where she had found the energy to be going this strong after 60 years she said: “Anybody that’s enthusiastic about something gets an extra boost of energy and it keeps you going.”

Lesley has been working as a parish nurse throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Picture by Mecha Morton
Lesley has been working as a parish nurse throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Picture by Mecha Morton

She added that she would carry on with her current role until she is told ‘that’s enough Lesley’.

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