Hospital porter, 85, has no plans to retire after receiving BEM

·3-min read

An 85-year-old health service porter, who has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year Honours, has said he has no intention of retiring.

Jimmy Chapman works at Lisburn Health Centre, where he takes care of patients, starting at 4am every morning day.

He told the PA news agency: “I take care of everybody – the young and the elderly and the in-betweens.

“I am here for 27 years. I started when I was 59. I am 85 now.

“I like working with the people in the health centre and I like the work I am carrying on and I like looking after disabled people, bringing them in and out in wheelchairs. I like to help people in distress.”

Mr Chapman added: “I start the day by collecting the waste, then I do the post. I move the furniture, I deliver all the parcels that come in, I do the stores. It is just continuous, non-stop.

“I come in at 4am in the morning and go home at 4pm.

“I like to come in early so I can get things done when there is nobody in the building and I can check the fire alarms. I get more work done in those first couple of hours than I would do in half a day.”

Mr Chapman said when he first received the letter telling him he was being given the honour, he thought it was a court summons.

“I nearly took a heart attack when I opened it, I thought somebody was playing a prank on me.

Porter Jimmy Chapman starts work at Lisburn Health Centre at 4am (Liam McBurney/PA)
Porter Jimmy Chapman starts work at Lisburn Health Centre at 4am (Liam McBurney/PA)

“I was really, really pleased that somebody thought that much of me to put me up for this award. I was delighted, over the moon. It is the first award I have ever got.

“It has all been a secret up to now, but it does mean a lot to me and it will mean a lot to my family.

“I like my job, I really like working with the people here, and I like looking after people in wheelchairs – they are so grateful for the help you give them.

“I have always wanted to help people. I hate to fall out with anybody.”

The porter said work has become more challenging because of the pandemic.

“It has been very difficult with Covid. You have to get people to come in at the time they are supposed to come in because you can’t have them in waiting areas an hour before their time.

Jimmy Chapman said he likes helping people and has no plans to retire (Liam McBurney/PA)
Jimmy Chapman said he likes helping people and has no plans to retire (Liam McBurney/PA)

“You change your way of working. You have to wear a mask all the time and you have to change it often.

“You keep yourself safe and other people safe, but we get through it OK.”

Asked if retirement is in his plans, Mr Chapman dismissed the idea.

“I will never consider retiring; what would I do with myself if I retired?

“My place is in my workplace, serving people as best as I can, and that is what I will continue to do as long as my health holds out.”

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