A north-east NHS stalwart has left the health body after a career spanning more than half a century.
Liz Norris, 71, from Westhill, was instrumental in delivering the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital as we know it today and also worked in several NHS health boards across the country before settling in the north-east.
After her job role came to an end, she left last month following an impressive 54 years providing care to others, and it was the love of the job that kept her working well beyond retirement age.
Beginning her career at 17, Liz worked in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill in Glasgow, where she is originally from.
She said: “I’d originally planned to be a primary school teacher. I read an article about the local children’s hospital in Yorkhill and I thought that sounded interesting so I sent in an application and got it.
“I had to live in the nurses’ home and it was very strict, not like today. You couldn’t call people by their first name, they were just known as nurse.”
Just before she finished her training, she met her late husband Barry on holiday and they were engaged three months later and married when Liz was 21. Liz even went into hospital on her wedding day to visit her favourite young patient.
She moved to London, where she took up a role in St Thomas’ Hospital, before moving to the King’s College Group of hospitals and taking up a post in Greenwich and then moving to Aberdeen to be with family.
Liz said: “We moved to Aberdeen in 1977 to get away from the rat race and I started work at the sick kids doing a couple of nights a week first as a staff nurse and then a sister. I had a secondment to professional development and then a couple of project posts before getting the post to join the project team building the new children’s hospital.
“That was a big learning curve as I had never seen an architectural plan before and some of the engineering terminology was like a foreign language, but it was a wonderful experience.”
She also supported the ARCHIE Foundation, which was newly formed at the time.
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After the children’s hospital was completed, Liz moved into the physical planning team, now known as property and asset development, working on delivering new or refurbished health facilities across the north-east.
Over the years she has made it into the press multiple times – including for her impressive academic record.
The mother of three and grandmother of seven holds a postgraduate qualification, which she got at the age of 50, an MSc in advanced nursing at 53 and a master of letters degree in 2009 aged 61.
Liz is now keeping herself busy by taking on a range of projects, including knitting to help others.
She said: “There’s been good times and there’s been bad times, but it’s been rewarding.
“It was great to see children get well, but it’s hard to watch the children who don’t get better, but you do all you can for them.
“When nurses move away from the direct delivery of patient care, it takes time to adjust and convince oneself that you are still doing a worthwhile job.
“Over the years and especially the last few weeks I have had letters and emails from people telling me how much they appreciated working with me to ensure that their area was suitable for their needs.
“And I have really appreciated their feedback. But at heart I was always a nurse first and foremost. I’ve been knitting trauma teddies for the emergency services, baby cardigans, fishermen’s hats, I can knit while I’m watching TV and it just helps take my mind off things.”