Shropshire nurse hangs up her uniform to retire after almost four decades

A long-serving and loyal nurse is hanging up her uniform after almost four decades spent at Shropshire's orthopaedic hospital.

 From left, Chris Morris, interim director of nursing, and Julie Roberts, assistant chief nurse at RJAH
From left, Chris Morris, interim director of nursing, and Julie Roberts, assistant chief nurse at RJAH

Julie Roberts has nursed on six wards and cared for thousands of patients during her 37 years at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH), near Oswestry, where she is leaving as assistant chief nurse.

She has seen eight chief executives come and go during her tenure, and worked in a host of nursing roles all the way up into leadership.

She officially retired earlier this year, but came straight back again to help support the hospital during the coronavirus pandemic.

Much-loved Julie started her nursing training back in November 1983 at the specialist orthopaedic hospital.

The Anglesey-born nurse has worked in a variety of areas, including orthopaedics, rheumatology, governance, a number of leadership roles and most recently infection control, where she has worked tirelessly to support the hospital’s response to Covid-19.

Moral duty

Despite actually retiring in April, Julie felt a moral duty to return to support her colleagues – coming back just two days later.

The 55-year-old said: “These past few months have, without a doubt, been the busiest and most challenging time of my NHS career. It’s been a real emotional rollercoaster but I know I couldn’t have lived with myself if I’d have left in April.

“Of course coronavirus absolutely hasn’t gone away, we’re all going to have to learn to live with it for some time but it’s definitely the right time for me to go now.

“It’s going to be extremely hard to say goodbye because this hospital has been my life for the past 37 years. I’m going to be leaving behind not just colleagues but some amazing, lifelong friends, who I’ve grown up with.”

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Julie has seen a number of changes over the years at RJAH, recalling the early days of when the hospital had a concert hall and social club, which was used for many functions and parties – including the ‘Miss Orthopaedic’ competition, which she came runner-up in back in the 1980s.

She added: “The memories I have from my time at RJAH have been absolutely amazing, there are simply too many to mention.

“I’m just thankful for all the fantastic opportunities I’ve had here, and I’m immensely proud to say I’ve worked at an internationally-renowned hospital, which provides the highest standards of patient care.

“I’m going to miss all the patients and my colleagues so much.”

Gilly Griffiths, theatre nurse manager at RJAH, who completed her nursing training with Julie, said: “Julie is a long-time friend and colleague of mine, having completed our nurse training together.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure working together all of these years. I remember when she moved to Oswestry from Anglesey to start her training; she couldn’t wait for her mum and dad to leave, so she could enjoy the parties and various social events we’d all go to.


“Those of us who trained together lived in the old nurses’ home, and we would all spend our free time in Julie’s room because she had a toaster, kettle, you name it, she had all the gadgets.

“On a serious note though, I’m going to miss seeing Julie’s smiley face on the corridor. She will be sorely missed by all at the trust, as she has supported and mentored so many colleagues over the years.”

Chris Morris, interim director of nursing, said: “Julie has worked for the NHS for 37 years as a nurse, which is something to be very proud of and is one of Anglesey’s greatest exports. She has spent her career here at RJAH, and has an amazing organisational memory, which will be lost once she leaves us.

“She has worked on many of the wards in the trust and I was recently reminiscing with her about when we used to collect patients from theatre and wheel their beds across the car park to what was Commonwealth Ward in all weathers – something we wouldn’t do today.

“Julie is an amazing, caring and compassionate nurse, always putting patients first and thinking of her colleagues. She is very well respected throughout the trust and has never been one to shy away from a problem.

“It’s been my absolute privilege to work with Julie over many years, and she will be missed by all at the Trust.”

Stacey Keegan, acting chief executive, said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Julie during my time here. She’s an absolutely fantastic nurse and leader, who will be missed by all at the trust.

“She’s devoted her life to this hospital, even delaying her official retirement to help support the trust during the pandemic.

"Thank you to Julie for everything she’s done for RJAH over the years. I wish her all the very best in her new chapter.”

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