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Child health nurse John Mathieson is planning to enjoy a ‘pensioner’s gap year’ in his new motorhome after doing his final shift for the NHS after 45 years.
John, who turned 62 on Wednesday, was surprised to leave Campbeltown Medical Practice for the final time on May 24 to rapturous applause from more than 50 colleagues, family and friends.
‘I wasn’t expecting it,’ he said. ‘I thought they would give me a bottle of champagne in the health centre or something like that.
‘I had a wee party with colleagues the Saturday before and I thought that was going to be it.’
John went to primary school in Drumlemble before attending Campbeltown Grammar School.
He started his varied nursing career in 1977, initially working in mental health, before spending 10 years on Guernsey where he worked in children’s mental health.
He returned to his roots in 1987, to work at Campbeltown’s Cottage Hospital.
In 1993, John took part in the move to the current purpose-built hospital, where he initially worked in the accident and emergency department before moving on to the role from which he has now retired.
John, who said this feels like ‘the right time to go’, doesn’t have any particular highlights but many events over the years stand out in his mind as prominent.
The pandemic made an interesting end to John’s career – he was the first to administer a Covid-19 vaccination in Campbeltown and he went on to carry out many of the town’s injections.
‘I’ve been well supported by my NHS colleagues,’ he said. ‘We support each other, and that’s part of caring.
‘Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership has been very good too.’
John has already been asked to return to help with a couple of clinics and to do a shift as a practice nurse but he wants to enjoy a break and some travelling first.
‘I have no great plans but I’m going to take off in my campervans with my friends,’ he said. ‘I’m going to Gigha at the end of June, Mull in July, Venice in September and Greece next year.
‘I’m calling it a pensioner’s gap year – I want to have a break and then I can decide if I want to go back to do anything.’
He added: ‘Many thanks to Fiona Semple, Anne Bruce and Carol Anderson, who I’ve worked closely with for the last 12 years in a good wee team, and to all my colleagues over the years.’