The longest serving member of staff at Altnagelvin Hospital, Roberta Temple, retired on Monday, January 25, after five decades of dedicated service in the laundry department.
Leaving school at the tender age of 15, Miss Temple worked for three years in an office before starting work in Altnagelvin’s laundry department in January 1965.
In the time since her career began Roberta was witness to some major changes to working practice, much of it reducing the amount of physical labour and manual handling of linen to mechanized machinery.
Many of those who paid tribute to Roberta reminded her of the days when linen used to come to the laundry in paper bags, was sorted and was washed in washing machines before being unloaded and put through wringers. In those halcyon days there were 60 members of staff, give-or-take, and the jovial working atmosphere of the day was recalled with fondness.
More recently, conventional linen has been replaced by ‘sleepknit linen’. This was a major change for the laundry department where machinery and manpower are concerned. Also, nurses’ uniforms were very laborious, each blue uniform had an apron, belt, collar and cuffs to be washed and starched.
Commenting on her 50 years of service, Roberta said: “I find it hard to believe that 50 years have gone by so quickly, but I have enjoyed every minute. Not many people have the good fortune to have employment for 50 years straight and I am very grateful I had my health to do so.
“I consider many of my colleagues to be very good friends and it has been a pleasure working with a great bunch of people and I would like to thank them all for their steadfast support, I will really miss them all. It will be a very strange feeling not having the same routine of coming in to work everyday but I am certainly looking forward to the rest and enjoying my retirement.”
Paying tribute to Roberta, Western Trust Chairman, Mr Gerard Guckian said: “We would like to send our warmest wishes to Roberta on her well-deserved retirement. As a valued member of the laundry department, we are extremely grateful to Roberta for her commitment and hard work quietly behind the scenes. Support workers like Roberta make a vital contribution to the quality of patient care and I would like to thank Roberta for playing her part in improving patient experience over the past 50 years. I hope she enjoys a long and healthy retirement.”
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