Posted on Thursday 1 October 2020
Betty Davis and Carole Kimberlin
Two dedicated nurses who delayed their retirement to work during the COVID-19 pandemic are finally taking the break they deserve.
Between them, Carole Kimberlin and Betty Davis have clocked up more than 75 years of loyal service to the nursing profession, with the last 20 years spent working for the ear, nose and throat (ENT) team at Guy’s and St Thomas’.
Carole became a nurse after joining the Royal Navy in 1973, aged 17. She travelled the world working on the ships and spent time based in Gibraltar, Malta and Cyprus, caring for the officers and their families.
The 66-year-old said: “I wanted to be a nurse from an early age and I had an exciting career with the British Navy and learnt a wide range of skills. I’ve seen some pretty horrific wounds but it stood me in good stead for my NHS career when caring for patients who needed head and neck dressings.”
Carole, from Rotherhithe in south east London, left the Forces after several years of service to start a family. She worked at King’s College Hospital and Lewisham Hospital before joining St Thomas’ Hospital in 2001.
The mother-of-four, who has five grandchildren, said: “People always talk about the Forces as a close knit community. They become part of your family because you depend on them for your life when you’re in dangerous situations, and you spend your downtime time socialising with them too.
“When I came to Guy’s and St Thomas’ it was like being in a family again. When you have good management and you’re part of a good nursing team you don’t want to leave. I have been blessed to have had an amazing career and have loved every minute of it. The wonderful nurses and doctors in the ENT team are the reason I stayed so long.”
Betty, from Gillingham in Kent, qualified as a nurse in January 1985 and took up a post in the elderly care ward at The Royal London Hospital, before joining the British Nursing Association, which led to her taking agency shifts at St Thomas’ Hospital and Guy’s Hospital.
She then went on to study for a degree in psychology in Devon in 1989, but continued to travel into London so she could carry out shifts at Guy’s Hospital.
The 60-year-old, who took up a permanent position at the Trust almost 16 years ago, said: “Throughout my career I’ve met amazing colleagues and patients and been inspired by them. The thing I take away with me is everybody is unique and you get out of life what you put into it.”
She added: “When I’m not nursing I’m fundraising. Over the years I’ve helped to raise thousands of pounds for Macmillan and charities that support people with HIV, lupus and homelessness.”
Despite contracting coronavirus in March, Betty returned to the frontline a month later when she had recovered.
She said: “The Trust has looked after me so well over the years so I wanted to give back and do my part.”
For nurses starting out in the profession, Betty’s advice is: “You can become a patient tomorrow so treat people how you would want to be treated. Treat colleagues like brothers and sisters, and patients like your mother and father – you are here to do a service.”
Shirley Mullings, ENT outpatient sister, was trained by Betty when she was a newly qualified nurse in 2010.
Shirley said: “Betty is the same person since the first day I met her. She is always kind and respectful and lives and breathes the Trust values and behaviours. She does it because she wants to help and she cares. Both Betty and Carole are the essence of a true nurse.”
While Carole is looking forward to spending time with her family and cycling, Betty’s not ready to give up working completely and plans to take on some bank shifts. She will also continue with her poetry writing and work in her local church and community.