IT was quite the choice – take up the habit and become a nun, or train as a nurse.
Luckily for her tens of thousands of patients over the years, nursing won for Colleen King, who is celebrating 40 years as a burns nurse in Wakefield –and is believed to be the longest serving burns nurse in the country.
It was with reluctance that she first took up a post at the Burns Centre at Pinderfields Hospital, now known as the Regional Adults’ Burns Centre, as she had wanted to pursue a post in orthopaedic nursing, but after a three month stint in 1978, she didn’t want to leave.
She was on the scene of the Bradford City Fire in 1985 and was there when the Prince of Wales and Princess Diana visited the grounds in the aftermath of the disaster. It was through this visit that Ms King and a colleague were invited to, and attended Diana’s funeral in 1997. Throughout her career as a Burns Nurse, she has seen a lot of changes.
“Lots more patients survive now, due to more developments in research, technology, even down to the dressings that we can now use and how soon surgery is performed,” she said. “This has improved vastly from the 70s, 80s and even the 90s.”
Director of nursing at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, David Melia, described Ms King as an “inspiration”.
“She exudes all of the qualities that a good nurse should possess and is a shining example of this Trust’s commitment to caring, excellent service,” he said. “I am sure I speak for everyone at the Trust when I say we are incredibly grateful for Colleen’s continued dedication.”