East of Scotland Branch News

From Loraine Hartley

The Branch continues to hold its committee meetings in the virtual world – via Teams – and although it is a great way to keep in touch, it is not the same as meeting up.

The Branch held its AGM on Friday 4 December 2020, and we were pleased to welcome our National Chairman, Craig Smith. Craig updated members about the changes and proposals to the Association’s governance arrangements, the impact of Coronavirus on the HCA, and his role as Chair.

The AGM also saw the appointment of our new Chair, Sean Hunter, and our new committee member Tara Hargreaves – good luck to you both.

We are now planning our 2021 events and meetings calendar, which will hopefully go ahead and allow us to meet up with retired members who we have not seen or heard from in a while, and to start our recruitment campaign. The rollout of the vaccines will hopefully ease the situation, so fingers crossed.

The Branch wishes everyone a happy, healthy and ambitious 2021.

My life in retirement

East of Scotland Branch, like the rest of the HCA, saw so many plans and ambitions put aside last year, so we asked a few of our retired members to share with us what they have been doing since retirement and through COVID. The spotlight this issue falls on John Walker and Muriel Blake.

John Walker (Formerly of Burlodge Ltd.)

John WalkerI began work in 1965 as a hotel Commis Chef before joining The Army Catering Corps in 1968. I served a total of 23 years, completing my military contract in 1991. I was then employed by the NHS as an Assistant Hotel Services Manager at Murray Royal Hospital in Perth before moving to Perth Royal Infirmary as Hotel Services Manager in 1993. I left the Health Service in 1995 to take up a position as Regional Sales Manager with Burlodge Ltd and my sales areas of responsibility were Scotland, North East England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. I retired from Burlodge in 2017 after 22 years, wondering how I was ever going to cope with not working following 52 years of full-time employment.

I have often heard retired people say that there are not enough hours in a day to do what they want and that they don’t know how they ever managed to find time to work. When I heard this I thought they must be joking – you can sit around all day doing nothing if you want. Not a chance. I can honestly say now that there are not enough hours, in any day, to do what I would like to do.

My wife was still working when I retired so I went straight into the role of house-husband and was fully employed in domestic life from the moment she left for work until she came home to a cooked meal (I did manage to squeeze in a trip to the gym Monday to Friday).

After two years of this hard labour a friend asked if I was interested in driving, part time, for a care home in Kirkcaldy, delivering meals to old people (well, older than me). My role involves standing in for permanent driving staff who are on holiday or sick leave and I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of this job, especially meeting and chatting to our clients.

My priorities have definitely changed and life is much less stressful. I no longer have to get up at silly o’clock in the morning to travel to Dublin, Belfast, Newcastle Upon Tyne or Inverness for a 9am appointment, but I certainly don’t sit about either (other than when the cricket/golf/rugby/football is on the television of course). I also no longer have to worry about working as a full-time house-husband because my wife has now joined me in retirement and we now share those household chores (joy).

Therefore, in my opinion, there is no such thing as life in the retirement slow lane, but it is pressure free and I love it.

I wish you all the very best for the future and a long and happy retirement when your turn comes.

Muriel Blake

Muriel BlakeWhen I was asked to return to work in early 2020 – after three years of retirement – to assist the catering department in Victoria Hospital, it was a daunting prospect. The Catering Manager had left and two long-standing members of staff had passed away suddenly, so morale was at a low. I was going on holiday in the middle of April so I agreed to return for a few weeks, but COVID-19 happened and I ended up working until the end of August.

The department required support to maintain its normal high standards, to help improve morale and to recruit additional staff, although interviews and recruitment were a challenge given the COVID restrictions. I had to dig deep into the recently unused part of my brain to remember regulations and procedures, and had to undergo a steep learning curve because there were a number of new recruitment procedures and IT packages I needed to use that were not in place before my retirement.

Staff had to learn new routines when they went to the wards and additional procedures to ensure the safety of the staff, patients and food. Everyone responded extremely well and rose to the new challenges, although, as expected, they were nervous about what would happen and how safe they would be in going to the wards. However, once they became familiar with procedures they carried on as usual.

The improved staffing levels and the fantastic attendance and good spirit of the staff returned, and although it took much longer than we had hoped to recruit a new manager there is now a new leader in place to take the department forward.

It was my pleasure and privilege to return to the department and I commend all the staff for their dedication, good spirits and hard work during this most difficult time.


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