“All I always wanted to be was a nurse.”

And after a career spanning 40 years Fiona Chambers will finally say goodbye to nursing next month.

Fiona, 58, spent two decades helping patients at Colchester Hospital’s intensive care unit.

This was followed by 15 years serving the community as a practice nurse.

And despite the ups and downs the career brings, Fiona says she would never have done anything differently.

Fiona, who grew up in Ealing in London, trained at the city’s St George’s Hospital.

After three years as a student nurse she went on to work in the hospital’s Atkinson Morley Regional Neurosciences Centre.

When her husband’s job moved to Colchester Hospital in 1985 she also secured a job at the Turner Road site.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

She said: “The Queen had only opened the hospital in the April and I began work in the August.

“It was different from anything I had done before.

“I spent 20 years working there and during that time had my three children. I just went back each time and didn’t have any time off.”

Of all the memories, the new year of 1999/2000 is a strong one.

Leading up to the new year there were fears of the UK’s technical infrastructure grinding to a halt at the stroke of midnight.

People feared a millennium bug catastrophe would have hit telecommunications, power, transport and the media amid fears computers would not cope when the date flicked over to 01/01/2000.

While it turned out not to be a problem Fiona and her team had prepared for the worse case scenario.

She said: “One of the highlights was I became the sister of the ward on the night of the millennium.

“Everyone thought there was going to be a crash and there would be no power. We had eight beds with everyone on ventilators.

“We were expecting everything to stop so we had to have enough staff in case it did.

“It is so silly now.”

In 2005, she moved into primary care working for the North Hill Surgery in Colchester and its partner surgery in West Bergholt.

She said: “It was a learning curve.

“The work was completely different but the patient is always in the middle of it.

“In critical care you have got someone who is very ill and when they get better you don’t see them again.

“In this role, I see patients week after week.

“It has been difficult in the last few weeks saying goodbye to my patients and it is what I will miss the most.”

Fiona admits nursing is a tough job but the support of colleagues and gallows humour gets you through.

“My children always used to say family meal times were filled with gory stories from work about blood, bowels and heart attacks,” she said.

During April and May Fiona returned to Colchester Hospital’s intensive care department to help on the frontline of the Covid-19 crisis.

She said: “It was grim but we got to feel we had helped.

“I know people say they don’t know anyone who has had Covid or died from it but it is not something to be trivialised.

“A lot of people get mild symptoms and don’t realise they have got it at all but if it is bad you struggle to breathe and you have no energy.”

She urged people to follow social distancing advice.

“We have got to keep going, this will get better. People have got to do what they have got to do. It is hard and horrible but we have got to keep our heads down.”

While Fiona doesn’t have any plans for retirement due to the pandemic she hopes to be able to visit her children who live away from Colchester and enjoy being more spontaneous.

But once a vaccine is ready to be rolled out she may be persuaded out of retirement.

She said: “I would be happy to help with any vaccination programme that happens.

“I’m also not saying I am never going to do anything career-related again.

“I will wait and see what happens.

“I’ve loved what I have done. If anyone is thinking of going into nursing I would say it is a fantastic career.”