7th February 2023

Barbara Craven has devoted 56 years to nursing in Derbyshire and is loved by her patients and colleagues for her sunny and caring nature.

Now aged 71, Barbara has no plans to retire from her 30-hours-per-week job at Clay Cross Hospital where she has been a member of the clinical navigation team for Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust for the past decade.

It got us thinking that Barbara is probably the oldest working nurse in Derbyshire – if not further afield?

As a teenager Barbara was drawn to a career in nursing when her father had a serious pit accident. She said:

“My dad was a miner at Williamthorpe colliery and was badly injured when the roof fell on him. I felt useless when he was discharged home, that made me decide on nursing as a career.”

In 1967 she began her nurse cadet training at the old Chesterfield Royal Hospital and has devoted her working life to looking after patients in the Chesterfield area ever since.

Barbara was recently invited to tell her story – and share her memories of nursing over the past half century - at the public trust board meeting for Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust. You can read more here.

Her continued zest for work and for the companionship of being in the workplace is explained by Barbara:

“Family and friends are very important to me and colleagues are my extended family. I can’t sit still for long enough to sew or knit, I like to be doing things. I enjoy cleaning, ironing and cooking - I really should have had a cleaning business!”

Barbara has maintained her dedication to nursing for more than half a century while also raising a family - she is now a grandmother to four, aged between 14 and nine. Her energy and her generosity in sharing her knowledge have been remarked on by colleagues and former colleagues.

Her colleagues in the Clay Cross Hospital clinical navigation team said:

“Barbie is our little ray of sunshine who brightens up everyone’s day. To say she is loved, respected and admired by all is an understatement. No words can express what we feel for this special person who has inspired so many lives. Thank you, Barbie, from us all.”

Barbara said:

“I still feel I have a contribution to make, even though others say I am mad to be still around!! I’m always happy to lend a helping hand within my competencies and I enjoyed having students, being able to share my knowledge and help others to maximise their potential.”