Co Down nurse celebrates 50 years in the health service with children by her side

Kate Hamill pictured with four of her daughters who all work in healthcare L-R Eileen Quinn, Clodagh Hamill, Kate Hamill, Nuala Mageean and Aine Craig
-Credit: (Image: South Eastern HSC Trust)

Kate Hamill from Co Down has marked an extraordinary 50 years of service in the nursing profession at the Downe Hospital, celebrating the significant milestone alongside a career that's truly been a family affair.

Currently working two days each week with one of her daughters, Patient Flow Co-Ordinator Nuala Mageean, the Downpatrick woman is the matriarch of a health-focused clan. Inspired by their mother's steadfast commitment to caring for others, five of her daughters have pursued careers in health and social care, four of them serving within the South Eastern Trust.

Starting her journey into nursing back in 1970 and joining the team at the Downe Hospital six years later, 71-year-old Kate reflects on over fifty years of service with a sense of fulfilment, expressing, "very rewarding."

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In heartfelt terms, she speaks about her role, "Being a nurse means everything to me. It is great to come out in the morning to go to work in the Downe. The Downe is such a lovely hospital to work in and everybody is just so friendly."

Demonstrating her unwavering dedication, Kate once managed a 'knee deep in snow' trek during heavy snowfall that didn't stop her from completing the two-and-a-half-mile journey to the hospital. Her commitment also shone during the Covid-19 pandemic when she applied her dressmaking skills to create personalised masks for staff, relatives, schoolchildren, and even for weddings!

With a genuine passion for nursing that's obviously contagious, Kate takes pride in her children following her path into healthcare. "I am proud of them all," she states with affectionate pride.

Kate, who fulfils her nursing duties twice a week at the Downe, says she not only cherishes tending to her patients but relishes the bond she shares with her fellow nurses: "There have been a lot of changes since I first came to the hospital.

"There were no computers back then, but the personal care to the patients remains the same. I love my work, helping others and caring for patients is my whole world, that and my family. I am so glad I picked this career."

Kate as a young nurse
Kate as a young nurse -Credit:South Eastern HSC Trust

Her daughter Nuala regards her mother's profession as a major influence on her own path. "I started off my nursing career in the Royal Victoria Hospital and have been based in the Downe for five years now. Mummy has loved her nursing career, she has always loved coming to work and has made friends for life."

She expressed how "immensely proud" she feels about her mother and colleague. "Not only did mummy have ten children, she looks after grandchildren on her days off and is known for her dress-making skills around the country, she is amazing."

Nuala emphasized her mother's generous nature and satisfaction with their workplace. "Mummy is always giving, nothing is a bother to her. The South Eastern Trust is such a lovely Trust to work in. Mum and her friend decided at 16 that they would go into nursing and they are still friends to this day. Mum is our world and nursing is her world."

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