Trecia MacLaren, physiotherapy receptionist at Ashford Hospital, retired today (Friday 17-10-08) after 43 years of dedicated service.

She started work on 3rd May 1965 aged 16. She was employed as a part-time physiotherapy assistant working 36hrs a week for 11 shillings and was based in the ‘D’ block of the old hospital which consisted of old ‘Nissan’ huts. Over the years Treciawas involved in many activities throughout the department. She recalls helping in exercise classes which were single sex, applying her DIY skills to the bending of corset steels to fit all shapes and sizes and fashioning collars with a knife to make them more comfortable for the patients also, helping to lift patients up in their beds on the wards– if this was unsuccessful, the fire brigade were called! In 1975 the new department opened and Trecia helped in the hydrotherapy pool. On one occasion, the physiotherapist she was working with had a funny turn and ended up face down in the water, Trecia quickly grabbed her by the hair and pulled her out!

Trecia’s biggest claim to fame is when she met the Queen Mother on C10 ward. She had been sent to collect a patient who turned out to be an ex-butler to the Queen!

Said Superintendent Physiotherapist Sally Greensmith: “There is no doubt that the role of receptionist is one of the cornerstones of the department; keeping a track on appointments, answering the telephone, being often the first face a patient will see when they enter the department and making excellent tea for the staff!”

The department now sees around 2 500-3 000 patients per year and employs 20 staff, including admin support. The case load for the outpatient department is a mixture of orthopaedic and GP musculoskeletal referrals, there are classes and hydrotherapy available. Orthopaedic patients have their appointments arranged before they leave the ward and local GPs have contracts with the department to provide their physiotherapy services.

Said Sally: “Trecia will be dearly missed. She has written an instruction book filled with all those little jobs no-one realises she has been doing all these years! A new receptionist has been appointed and the staff are hoping that she will not find stepping into Trecia’s shoes too hard!”

Trecia lives locally in Ashford and is starting her retirement with a well earned holiday to visit family in New Zealand. She was given a good send off with a party arranged by her colleagues where many of those Trecia has worked with over the years gathered to show there appreciation for all her hard work and dedication. Aileen McLeish, newly appointed Chairman of Ashford St Peter’s NHS Trust, presented Trecia with a cheque from the trust in recognition of her outstanding achievement of 43 years continuous service. Trecia was also presented with flowers and gifts from her colleagues.