Long-serving volunteer celebrates 90th birthday with the South Tyneside hospital that saved her life

Margaret Donaldson and South Tyneside Sunderland Foundation Trust Chief Executive Ken Bremner MBE Credit: South Tyneside Sunderland Foundation Trust

A woman who has devoted her career and retirement to the NHS has marked her 90thbirthday with the help of the hospital who saved her life.

Margaret Donaldson is a volunteer at South Tyneside District Hospital’s outpatientsdepartment.

Before she gave up her time to help, she worked for the trust for almost 40 years as a receptionist and in the records department.

In the first wave of the pandemic, she became seriously ill and was treated by the veryhospital she supports, spending 10 days in its care following her collapse at her home inSouth Shields.

Margaret spent two months living with her daughter and son-in-law Michael after shebecame ill with COVID-19 and was supported by her wider family as she recovered andregained her independence.

Now Margaret’s milestone year has been marked by South Tyneside and Sunderland NHSFoundation Trust with a socially distanced presentation with a cake, balloons, flowers and cards.

Margaret said keeping busy is what keeps her going:

“Being a volunteer keeps me occupied and it is lovely to see other people and help them out. I have seen some changes over the years, and I loved working here and love being avolunteer.”

Margaret started at the NHS when she was 16-year-old. She worked on the switchboard at the Ingham Infirmary in Westoe, before she moved into a role with its records department.

At the age of 24 she took a break, got married to Tommy and became a mother, but a knock on her front door from a hospital manager led to her return, working in the hospital’sDiagnostic Centre.

Margaret retired at 65 after her husband had a stroke, caring for him until he passed away12 years later. Margaret first worked as a volunteer in the hospital shop before focusing her efforts greeting patients one day a week in the outpatients department.

The trust’s chief executive, Ken Bremner MBE said he was grateful for everything Margaret has done over the years:

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to recognise the dedication Margaret has shown South Tyneside District Hospital and the Trust throughout her many years of service and to celebrate such a milestone birthday.”

“Our volunteers do a fantastic job supporting our patients and staff and I am extremely grateful that we still have Margaret’s knowledge and experience to call on. On behalf of allher colleagues and friends at the Trust, I wish her a very happy birthday.”

Margaret's daughter Linda went along to the hospital with her mother to mark the 90th birthday with staff. Speaking at the occasion Linda thanked the hospital for organising the celebration and once again thanked staff for caring for her mum:

“We are incredibly proud of her and it is fantastic she is still volunteering. She was very desperately poorly with COVID-19 two years ago and spent time in hospital and we feel so lucky and thankful to still have her.”