Bield retirement housing resident celebrates NHS milestone with Royalty

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (left) and Catherine Reid (right). Image credit to Lloyd Smith

A 90-year-old former nurse who worked on the first day of the NHS has helped celebrate its 70th anniversary alongside the future King of the United Kingdom.

Catherine Reid, known as Kit, honoured the milestone at a packed reception held at the National Museum of Scotland on July 5.

Kit, who lives at Bield’s The Butts development in Haddington, mingled with a handful of well-known faces on the night, including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William.

Catherine Reid (left), Jeane Freeman MSP (middle) and Prince William (right). Image credit to Lloyd Smith

Kit said: “It was an absolute privilege to be invited to the reception for the NHS’s 70th birthday. I can’t thank the Provost of East Lothian, John McMillian, enough for putting my name forward.

“I got to speak to so many people from different walks of life at the event, and share my stories from when I worked as a nurse.

“There was one woman at my table from Aberdeen who had been a nurse for 54 years and had only ever taken one day off sick.

“I also had the privilege of meeting and speaking to Prince William about my experiences before and after the launch of the NHS. He was very charming.”

From 1946 to 1952, Kit worked as a nurse in Edinburgh. During her time on the wards, she spent nearly five years treating children at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

According to the East Lothian resident, the introduction of the healthcare service in 1948 played a vital role in lifting the morale of nurses, patients and families.

Kit added: “Before the NHS, people were under a lot of pressure with World War Two and nurses had to chip in with jobs out with their own, such as cleaning the hospital, to get things done. It was hard work.

“A lot of people couldn’t afford to see a doctor too, which was difficult when young children who were extremely ill were brought in.

“When the health service came into play, my first impression as a young nurse was really positive. It was so much happier and a much busier place. The experience working there was really hands-on.

“I remember getting my first salary after the NHS started, which was two pound notes and a 10 shilling note. The week before it had been seven shillings and six pence.

“I have so many happy memories from my time as a nurse and have had such a wonderful experience working on the wards. I couldn’t have imagined doing anything else.”

The Butts in Haddington is a retirement housing development aimed at people aged 60 and over.

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