A FORMER nurse who worked on the first day of the NHS has joined royal celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the health service.
Catherine Reid, 90, was among hundreds of attendees at a packed reception to honour those who have served the NHS.
Catherine, known to friends and family as Kit, met with special guests including Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, at the event – hosted at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Former Royal Hospital for Sick Children nurse Catherine, who worked on the wards for six years between 1946 and 1952, said it was “a privilege” to be in attendance at the party.
She said: “I got to speak to so many incredible people from different walks of life at the event, and share my stories from when I worked as a nurse.”
“There was one woman at my table from Aberdeen who had been a nurse for 54 years and had only ever taken one day off sick.
“It was an absolute privilege to be invited to the reception for the NHS’s 70th birthday. I can’t thank the Provost of East Lothian, John McMillian, enough for putting my name forward.”
“I also had the privilege of meeting and speaking to Prince William about my experiences before and after the launch of the NHS. He was very charming.”
According to the East Lothian resident, the introduction of the healthcare service in 1948 played a vital role in lifting the morale of nurses, patients and families following the end of the Second World War.
Catherine, who now lives in Haddington, added: “Before the NHS, people were under a lot of pressure with World War II and nurses had to chip in with jobs out with their own, such as cleaning the hospital, to get things done.”
“A lot of people couldn’t afford to see a doctor too, which was difficult when young children who were extremely ill were brought in.
“When the health service came into play, my first impression as a young nurse was really positive. It was so much happier and a much busier place. The experience working there was really hands-on.”
Recalling some of her favourite memories from her time on the ward, Catherine remembered receiving her first ever pay packet and making friends for life while in the job.
She said: “I remember getting my first salary after the NHS started, which at the time was two pound notes and a 10 shilling note.”
“The week before it had been seven shillings and six pence.
“I have so many happy memories from my time as a nurse and have had such a wonderful experience working on the wards. I couldn’t have imagined doing anything else.”