Stalwart Linda stands down after 47 years at Yeovil Hospital

LONG-serving Yeovil Hospital staff member – Linda Hann – has retired after helping patients and staff for more than four decades.

Linda began her career at Yeovil Hospital in 1977 and now, 47 years later, has stood down.

She has had many roles at the hospital over the course of her career, from nursing and managerial positions, to her most recent job as lead chaplain.

Linda has lived and worked in Somerset and neighbouring Dorset all her life, and admits she actually had no clue what she wanted to do after leaving school.

“When I finished school at the age of 16, I began working for a building society and stayed for five years,” she said.

“In 1977 a friend suggested that I consider a career as a nurse, so I became a student nurse, and apart from five years at Yeovil College, I’ve been working for the NHS locally ever since.

“I qualified as a state registered nurse at the hospital in 1980, and I spent a few years in staff nurse posts, before being promoted to a ward sister post on one of the two surgical wards at Yeovil Hospital.

“I then became the medical and outpatient manager, after which I took up the post of matron at South Petherton Community Hospital for two years.

“Following that was matron of St Margaret’s Hospice in Taunton for two years until I took a five year break from the health service and became a lecturer at Yeovil College in the health and care division, where among the groups I taught, was an Access to Nursing course.

“Years later I noticed that it was a real joy to see that many of the wards at Yeovil Hospital actually had ward sisters who I’d taught on the access course, which showed how successful it was.

“I then spent eight or nine years doing a variety of different projects for the hospital, including managing the on-site nursery for a year.”

She said the skills she gained through her career meant she could take on a variety of roles.

“Throughout my career I’ve become convinced that the skills we gain along the way are very transferable, and it’s possible to do a range of wonderful jobs using those similar skills,” she went on.

“One of my biggest challenges was taking a team onto two struggling wards at Yeovil Hospital for a year, to turn them around.

“One of the two ward sisters that I took with me was our current service group director for patient flow, Mandy Carney. I’ve worked with so many wonderful colleagues over the years.

“I became the patient experience manager in 2012, overseeing PALS, complaints, bereavement, volunteers, and our wonderful ‘front desk’ team. It was during those five years that I grew to appreciate the enormous contribution that our volunteers make.

“I’ve been the lead chaplain for seven years, the last eight months of that being Somerset NHS Foundation Trust-wide.

“One of my favourite things about the chaplaincy role is that it has given me contact with so many people, both colleagues and patients throughout the hospital, I can’t walk down a corridor without a friendly face saying ‘hello’.”

Linda says there have been so many highlights during her long career and that she’s enjoyed every single role, finding them all hugely rewarding.

“There really is something special about the comradery of working in the NHS, and I’ve made so many wonderful life-long friends,” she added.

“One of the funniest and most random days of my career has to be the first day I became matron at South Petherton Hospital, having only worked in only an acute hospital before.

“On that day, the meat freezer in the kitchen broke down and two cows from the farm next door decided to break down the fence – they clearly wanted to welcome me.

“In some ways I’m sad to be retiring, particularly leaving the team at Yeovil Hospital who I’ve worked so closely with over the years, and latterly the Musgrove Park Hospital and community mental health service teams, who I’ve gotten to know well too. Even so, I can’t wait to put my feet up.

“The first thing I’m going to do once I’m retired is to make my own hummus instead of buying it ready made.

“Lots of people have told me not to make any decisions about retirement for the first three months. I’m surrounded by people with lots of suggestions, but I’ll see what evolves.

“My parting message to colleagues is to continue to do what I see you doing so well, look after each other because what you do is challenging and very hard work, also take time to celebrate every one of your successes.”

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I am the editor in chief of Blackmore Vale media, which includes the New Blackmore Vale, New Stour & Avon, Salisbury & Avon Gazette and the Purbeck Gazette, having been a reporter for some 20 years. In my spare time, I am a festival lover, with a particular focus on Glastonbury. I live in Somerset with my wife and two children.