STAFF at Warrington Hospital have bid a fond farewell to a much-loved member of staff who has retired after 46 years of service.

Margaret Hughes has spent the last few years supporting bereaved families as the Trust’s bereavement office manager.

The 65-year-old started at Warrington Hospital on March 28 1974 as a shorthand typist in the general office.

She was later promoted to personal secretary to the hospital administrator, then hospital manager when the roles changed.

Margaret then moved to the office of the first chief executive as role of personal assistant to the director of estates from 1993 to 1999.

In Margaret’s later working years she was personal assistant in the Facilities Department before becoming the bereavement office manager in 2014.

Reflecting on the last 46 years, Margaret said: “I have seen many changes in the NHS, but one thing is constant and that’s the staff (in all roles) on the shop floor has always been dedicated to the care of the patient.

"We are still very lucky in this country to have the NHS, which has been proved more than ever during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I have some amazing memories of my time at Warrington Hospital, when I first started the building of Appleton Wing wasn’t even built.

"I remember working with the commissioning team on that building and having to wander through the half-finished building before it was open, with another member of the admin team.

"We had to make sure that all the lights were turned off and by the end we were working by torch light!

“One of the saddest memories was the Warrington bombing and the aftermath of that horrific event, I think taught us all a valuable lesson and we recognised the members of staff who were true heroes on that day.

“There are also the fantastic memories of social events, not least the amazing and fun Christmas parties we used to have.

“Never in a million years did I consider that I would be working my last few months of a 46-year career at Warrington Hospital in worldwide pandemic.

“Although the Bereavement Team is not frontline, the effects of dealing with the bereaved families of Covid-19 patients left us feeling emotionally drained.

"I have to say the generosity of the local businesses and people, as well as the national companies in donating all sorts of goodies to go in our comfort bags was amazing and made us feel so valued.

"This was the same with the Thursday night clapping, which we all participated in, particularly in appreciation of the front line workers who were putting their own lives at risk.”

Margaret who is born and bred in Warrington, but has lived in Macclesfield since 2008 when she married her husband Simon, plans to enjoy her retirement with holidays when they are not on hold.