IT'S like a royal progress down the hospital corridor; a warm greeting,
sometimes a hug, always a laugh and often a joke.
Lily Hendry, nearly 70 but still a hard working and much-loved
theatre nurse at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank,
is an institution.
So much so she has been shortlisted for the Extra Mile Award in
the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Diamond Awards.
Lily, of Robroyston, scoffs at stereotypes. So she's getting on
in years? You'd never know it. Younger colleagues gasp at her energy
levels and wish they could keep up with her.
"The girls I work with will say: would you calm down? You
make me awful tired watching you," she admits.
Theatre nurse Margaret McIntyre, who nominated Lily for the award,
says: "She is one of life's unsung heroes, who would go more
than that extra mile for just about anything that breathes.
"She is an adopted mother to a multitude of staff, from the
theatre cleaners to the surgeons, bringing in breakfast and lunch
and always ready with a snack just when you need it most.
"She is supposed to start at 7.30am, but is in just after
6am getting everybody's theatres started. If you get sent to do
a job, you can bet nine times out of 10 she has been there and done
Lily's dedication is such that even when she was due to have an
exploratory operation at Stobhill at 2pm at the beginning of the
year, she offered to work until noon.
"They thought I might have bladder cancer," she admits.
"It was just a bad infection, but it was a scary time. People
would be passing me in the corridors in tears."
Margaret says: "I asked colleagues for words that described
Lily. They came up with team worker, teacher, caring to a fault,
adaptable, keen, cheery, professional, hard-working, loyal, conscientious,
exuberant, empathetic, generous to a fault, good role model, most
definitely a sucker for a sob story, genuine, loving, energetic
whirlwind, storyteller and entertainer and, most of all, a survivor.
"I could go on but you would think you were hearing about
Lily was a busy young mother of three children, with a fourth on
the way, when she joined the NHS more than 40 years ago. She started
as an auxiliary, before training as a nurse and then in theatre
nursing and opthamology.
SHe is now a great-grandmother, with seven great-grandchildren
whose ages range from six to 16.
Her husband Bobby, 75, is retired, but she says: "I would
not know what to do with myself if I didn't work."
In her career in several Glasgow hospitals, including the Western,
the Royal Infirmary and Gartnavel, Lily has seen massive changes
in theatre work.
She has also been stabbed by a surgeon in Gartnavel.
"He didn't mean it," she says, with a laugh. "He
dropped a blade on the floor.
"There was a lot of blood on the floor and we couldn't think
where it was coming from until we discovered it was from a deep
wound in my foot.
I didn't feel a thing.
"They took me to the sluice to stitch me up and I carried
on. It was a dirty blade, but in those days there was not so much
infection or worry about Aids."
Yet, oddly, Lily is squeamish when it comes to TV medical soaps.
"I can't watch knife on skin - it looks much gorier on telly."
One happy memory involves the former Duke Street Hospital.
"I was the scrub nurse when the last baby was born there by
Caesarean section before the maternity section closed the following
"The baby was handed over to the midwife by the surgeon, but
it never cried. Being the mother of all these children, I panicked
until the baby let out this scream.
"When we went to take the mother into the ward, the father
was standing outside the theatre and he shouted Jean, we've got
a wee lassie.' He started crying and so did I. I'm very emotional."
Lily has been on mercy missions to Ghana three times, helping with
reconstruction surgery on burns in adults and children, and is an
adopted granny to several children.
She would carry her own clothes in her flight bag and load up her
main luggage with toys for the children. "I was 19 kilos overweight
last time," she says.
"It was so terrible that the first time I went I spent three
days crying. One lady was burned from the top of her head to below
the waist. Her husband had thrown a can of kerosene over her and
set it alight."
She shook her head. "Most of these poor people live in tin
huts and their lighting is kerosene lamps. One three-month-old had
lost her right arm when a kerosene lamp overturned on her cot."
Her own life has not always been easy, but you would never know
it. With the help of Bobby, she cared for her older sister, Cathie
- who was dying of lung cancer - in their own home three years ago
because she had begged Lily not to allow her to go into a hospice.
Lily was 65 before the new law was introduced that allows workers
to ask to stay on after the official retirement age if their employer
"I was told on the Friday they had to retire me, but they
said I could start again on the Monday as a bank nurse."
Lily can see herself carrying on nursing for years yet.
"This is my social life as well as my working life. It is
nice to be able to do what you do best.
My grandmother lived until she was 101 and I hope I am still working
WOE BETIDE the germ looking to do a bit of damage in the Golden
Jubilee National Hospital. There is not much chance of it escaping
Anne Gallacher's eagle eye.
She and her cleaning partner, Ina Benson, 62, are always on the
warpath to ensure there are no bugs.
Anne, 58, from Old Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire, has been shortlisted
for a Behind The Scenes Award for her hard work and cheerful dedication
to the job.
She is intensely proud of the hospital's reputation and awards
"There have been no proven incidences of MRSA here,"
she says. "People are amazed at how clean the place is. It
looks like a hotel rather than a hospital."
Every patient has a single room with its own shower and toilet
so there is less chance of infection.
"Ina and I have 36 single rooms on our ward," says Anne.
"One person cleans the room and the other does the en-suite,
so there is no cross-infection.
Anne has four daughters, six grandchildren and two foster grandchildren
and is also a registered foster carer, providing respite for other
carers at weekends.
But she loves working at the hospital and has no plans to retiring.
Her ward is Ward 2 West, the orthopaedic ward and when doing the
job of housekeeper - they don't call them cleaners any more - she
sings and dances.
"I like to talk to people. Ina was telling me off for singing
Christmas carols at Easter, but we have had loads of cards from
people thanking us for cheering them up.
"People say we should be on Stars In Their Eyes."
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