NHS 70 stories - Lyn Balson

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

As part of our NHS 70 countdown we are sharing people's NHS story

Lyn Balson has been working in the NHS for almost 44 years, and while she is nearly 70 she has no intention of stopping just yet.

It was after moving to Melksham when her husband was in the RAF that Lyn made her first step into the health service.

Lyn Balson

“We were new to the area and there was a cottage hospital just around the corner from us,” she said.

“I hadn’t really thought about nursing, but I wondered if they had any jobs so I knocked on the door, saw the matron and asked if there were any jobs going and after an interview I was offered the chance to be a Nursing Auxiliary.

“I used to work in the evening when my husband came home, there wasn’t childcare then.”

Lyn said her role involved putting patients to bed and then putting the porridge on before the day staff came in.

After four years the family moved back to Bristol and Lyn used the experience she had gained to apply for a role in extended care in the district, covering the whole of the then Frenchay Health Authority Area.

“I used to go to Manor Park every night and pick up a list of patients for the back to bed service,” she said.

“I would drive anywhere from Charlotte Keele and Lawrence Hill up to Marshfield, Berkeley, Wotton-under-Edge.

“There were no mobile phones and no lifting aids then and patients tended to be on divans rather than hospital beds.”

After seven years in the community and seeing the work of some of her trained nurse colleagues, Lyn decided she also wanted to become a nurse.

She was 40 and with her children getting older embarked on her access to nursing course at Soundwell College.

A new part-time course aimed at people with school-age children looking to train as nurses had started and Lyn was one of 12 people on the second intake of the four-year course.

The course was associated with the Avon School of Nursing, then based at Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) with placements at different local hospitals. Lyn went to Frenchay and stayed at the hospital until services moved into the Brunel building at Southmead in 2014.

Having completed her training Lyn initially worked on the hospital’s bank doing shifts wherever she was required until a permanent role came up on orthopaedic ward - 202.

As part of her orthopaedic work it was necessary for Lyn to do specialist training and while she was undertaking the course she first worked in the Plaster Room.

After five years on ward 202 Lyn made a permanent move into the plaster room where she is still based now 20 years on.

“I think it was the team and the camaraderie,” Lyn said.

“Patients are always happy when they come here, it’s a nice relaxed environment. It really is a lovely place.”

In her 44 years in the NHS Lyn has seen some changes, most notably in the uniforms.

“When I first started out as a nursing auxiliary we had brown uniforms and when I was out in the district I had a woollen coat,” she said.

“When I trained you wore a different colour belt for each year so that people knew you were a student nurse and where you were in your training. Going into trousers and scrubs was a big change.”

And despite her long service in the NHS Lyn cannot see herself hanging up those scrubs just yet.

“I’m 70 in February but I am as fit as I was ten years ago,” she said.

“I considered retiring before the move to Southmead as I used to be able to walk to work then, but I still like what I’m doing.

“I can’t imagine being in any other job and can see myself coming back through the bank and doing a few days when I do eventually retire.

“I started quite late so I guess in nursing terms I’m only really 40!”

To find out about the NHS 70 celebrations click here