Wigan school nurse with over 60 years' NHS service finally retires from duty

A much-loved Wigan nurse – thought to be the oldest working in Britain – has finally called it a day.
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Norma Newcombe, a school nurse who works from Hindley Health Centre, was joined by colleagues past and present, as well as some of the children she has cared for throughout her career, to celebrate her retirement from Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL).

The 81-year-old said: “I am both humbled and proud to serve such a wonderful institution founded by Aneurin Bevan which has serviced our country and its people, enabling them to have a better and healthier quality of life.

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“I have worked in a job I love since 1958, including 50 years as a school nurse, and have certainly seen many changes.

Norma NewcombeNorma Newcombe
Norma Newcombe
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“As a nurse, my main vocation was, and will always be, to care.”

Sharing a poem, written for her team, Norma reminisced on their time together and how proud she is of her colleagues, finally adding: “from 1973 to 2023, my journey’s end, and I’ve loved it all, every last road and bend.”

After becoming a nurse 65 years ago, Norma has worked for WWL and previous local health authorities for over 50 of them and remained committed to her profession, working five days a week at Hindley Clinic – the place where she began working in her local community in 1973 after completing her training in Liverpool.

Norma Newcombe during her trainingNorma Newcombe during her training
Norma Newcombe during her training
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But Norma has now finally decided it is time for her to retire from her post while she is still fit and active and able to enjoy herself.

Norma has lots of friends and family and is planning to keep in touch with her schools and do some volunteering with them.

Sharon Swift, Community Public Health Specialist Practitioner at Hindley Clinic, said: “Norma will be missed by all of the 0 to 19 service but we certainly wish her well with her next chapter.

"She holds a special place in the hearts of the children and families that she has helped over the years – many for three generations.

Norma Newcombe with Sharon SwiftNorma Newcombe with Sharon Swift
Norma Newcombe with Sharon Swift
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"Norma is a very special part of our School Nursing family and is loved by all of the team for her heart of gold and her dedication to the school age population of Wigan.”

Rachel Cheetham, Community Public Health Specialist Practitioner and 0 to 19 Operational Manager for Health Visiting and School Nursing, said: “She is the matriarch of our team and is recognised as such in our community.

"Norma is truly a remarkable woman and has dedicated her life to care for others.

"I am proud to know her personally and professionally and wish her well on her retirement.”

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Rabina Tindale, Chief Nurse at WWL paid tribute to Norma saying: “Norma’s commitment to her profession over so many years is astonishing, and we wish her all the best for what sounds like what will be a very active retirement.

"She will be missed.”

When interviewed for her 80th birthday last year, Norma said that the NHS had changed out of all recognition since she started and not always for the better.

She said: “I like people not machines, I can still write quicker than I can type.

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

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