OXFORD MAIL HOSPITAL HEROES: Oxford woman's life dedicated to nursing those in need

From left, Anna Woolcott, 22, Elspeth Woolcott, and Clare Woolcott, 48           Picture: OX59936 David Fleming

From left, Anna Woolcott, 22, Elspeth Woolcott, and Clare Woolcott, 48 Picture: OX59936 David Fleming Buy this photo

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FOR 58 years, Elspeth Woolcott dedicated her life to nursing.

The mother of six and grandmother of 17, from Jericho, is thought to be one of the longest-serving nurses with a career that spanned six decades.

She started nursing at 17 and now one of her daughters, Clare Woolcott and one granddaughter Anna Woolcott have followed in her footsteps.

The three generations of nurses have all worked at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

Now retired, Elspeth, 85, cared for patients all over the world, including a 24-year stint in a Zambian clinic.

She said: “I love it, I never wanted to do anything else. It is very satisfying to do something for someone else.

“The thing with nursing is you can see the wood for the trees, but in medicine you can’t always see where you are going.

“In Zambia we saw about 600 patients a day. It was like an assembly line, and we delivered babies in the corridors.

“I am very proud that my daughter and grandaughter are both nurses – I think it is lovely.”

Clare, 43, was born in Zambia and adopted the same passion for the career as her mum.

The Abingdon Community Hospital-based tissue viability nurse, who lives in Summertown, trained at the JR.

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She said: “I wanted to know what was going on, on the other side of the curtain.

“One of the things I remember is I would see these people walking around – they had elephantiasis. I found it really interesting, I love wounds. It is like a puzzle – finding out how to make the wound better.”

The interest has rubbed off on to Anna, 22, who started her first permanent job in the cardiology ward of the John Radcliffe Hospital last week.

She said: “I can’t say I always wanted to do it, but I knew I didn’t want a normal nine to five and I wanted something hands- on, working with people.

“I like working with older people, they always have a story. And when you make someone better it is really nice.

“It is really impressive to think how long my grandmother has been a nurse – I can’t believe it.”

Clare and Anna hope to follow in Elspeth’s shoes by going to Zambia on mission work next year.

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