Wigan nurse who has dedicated six decades of her life to nursing celebrates 80th birthday

A Wigan school nurse whose career has spanned six decades says she has no plans to slow down – despite celebrating her 80th birthday.

Norma Newcombe started her career in August 1958 as a cadet at a hospital for babies in Liverpool, before working at a children’s hospital after she qualified.

She took a break from nursing when she became pregnant in 1965 to care for her two children.

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In 1973 Norma decided to return to work and was appointed as a school nurse based at Hindley Health Centre – where she still works full-time.

Norma at her WWL surprise party

She believes the profession has changed a lot over the years.

During the pandemic, Norma was forced to work from home due to having a weakened immune system.

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Norma, who lives in Ashton said: “I like people not machines, I can still write quicker than I can type.

Norma, middle row in centre with blonde hair - in 1962.

"Obviously things have to progress but there is not the same personal contact.

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"When I first started school nursing, I could name you every child in my primary schools but I can’t now.

"I’ve had various illnesses over the past 10 years including being diagnosed with leukemia.

"So when Covid hit I worked from home for a long time. I couldn’t get out in the community and some of the work got took off me because I couldn’t do it justice.”

f Norma with Sharon Swift, Community Public Health Specialist Practitioner at Hindley Clinic (left) and Amanda Cheeseman, Assistant Director of Nursing (right)
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Norma does a lot of work with special schools and is appreciated across the school community.

For her 80th birthday, she enjoyed a surprise party thrown by her colleagues at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Despite hitting the milestone, Norma has no plans to slow down.

She said: “A lot of these schools kept ringing me up while I was working from home as they would only deal with me.

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"One of them invited me to a barbecue before school finished and then took me out for lunch the week before my birthday.

"At this moment in time, I’m having a few mobility issues so I want to get them sorted first.

"I do a lot of long-haul holidays as my sister lives in Australia and we usually meet up halfway, so I want to be able to enjoy it.

“I’ll probably do school nursing until I die!”