Theresa Leslie, the site manager of Whipps Cross University Hospital, has retired after four decades working in Leytonstone
I’ve worked at Whipps Cross Hospital for 39 years. I started my training on Boxing Day; it was freezing cold and we were new and very green. We all congregated in the nurses’ home in the sitting room and nobody knew each other. We soon made friends though.
I’ve made a lifelong friend in Breeda from the site managers’ office, who I trained with, as well as Marie from Acute Assessment Unit. That’s all who’s left of the set who trained in the 1970s.
I could write a book on my best memories. The training we had was brilliant. We spent a lot of time on the wards, which I think is great. We weren’t allowed to make a cup of tea in the kitchen so when we did go in it was really exciting as you didn’t want to get caught. We’d hide behind the door from matron!
I didn’t start nursing until I was 23 because I worked in Ireland in the civil service for five years. I have a sister-in-law and two sisters who are nurses and who all trained at Whipps Cross. I got fed up with office work and thought I would try nursing; it had never occurred to me before. I came over and have never looked back. I’ve loved every minute of it.
The thing I love most about nursing is talking to the patients. And I loved working in A&E, as you never know what’s coming through the door; I like the buzz. But mostly chatting with patients.
Some people have led such interesting lives and it’s lovely to hear them, especially the elderly.
I remember chatting to a little old lady who was about 95 and the stories she could tell you about her first dates, back in the day, sneaking around!
Our population is growing and we need more beds. But I hope we get a new Whipps Cross. I want it to keep going. I’ll miss my colleagues. A wonderful, amazing team. I’ve loved every minute.
If you’re a nurse starting out I’d say ask lots of questions. Know what you’re doing and why you are doing it. But most of all enjoy it!