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Retired nurses call for thanks for International Nurses Day

International Nurses Day

For Bernice (Nonie) and Margaret, their lifelong careers in nursing took them to places they never expected.  

The Allity Princeton View Aged Care residents both started their careers in the 1950s and say nursing took them across Australia and the world helping those who needed it the most.

“I had always wanted to do nursing since I was a little kid – my bookshelf at home was full of nurse books so by the time I was 10 I knew exactly what I wanted to do,” Margaret said.

“My husband and I moved to Rockhampton working in the hospital and we also serviced the Aboriginal community at Woorabinda which was really rewarding work.

“My favourite time throughout my career was the last 10 years in aged care – I just loved working with the different residents because you could have so much fun,” she said.

Starting her work in Melbourne, Nonie’s career took an unexpected turn when the International Red Cross called for health professionals to work in Cambodia in the 1960s.

“There were 120 medical people from 19 countries, and I was to be responsible for their health and wellbeing,” Nonie said.

“You could only run the hospital during the day because it was dangerous at night - as soon as dusk came down the guns would come out,” she said.

For Nonie, her vital role in Cambodia was far more than stitching up the wounded - she was the backbone and support that the frontline staff could rely on.

“I would stay in Bangkok for a few days and then head out for a week and I would be there every afternoon for people who wanted to talk, and I saw that as my role.

“I was there to listen to those people on the ground with their problems and try and sort them out,” she said.

Friday 12th May is International Nurses Day, marking the birth date of Florence Nightingale. For Margaret, the day is an important time to thank nurses for all they do.

“I just think all the work nurses are doing, especially during COVID and nasty things like that. It’s about having one day a year to recognise that worldwide and it’s wonderful,” Margaret said.

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