Outdoor-loving Wrexham nurses swap scrubs for hiking boots

A MARRIED couple with 95 years of nursing service between them retire to take a walk on the wild side.

Hilary and John Mills will be sadly missed by their colleagues and residents at Highfield Care Home in Pendine Park in Wrexham.

Hilary has been with the group for 19 years and John for 12. But the couple, who met as teenagers as nursing students, have now both reached retirement age.

When not working, the couple from Pandy, near Wrexham, have always enjoyed being outdoors and are keen walkers.

They are now looking forward to swapping their nursing scrubs for hiking boots, and say one of their first stops after retirement will be the wild hills of Keswick for a refreshing break in the Lake District.

After so many years of nursing, they are sad to say goodbye to their many work friends and the families of Highfield residents they have come to know well during their years at Pendine Park.

But the couple are confident that the beloved patients will be in good hands.

Hilary said: “One of the most rewarding parts of our time at Pendine Park has been welcoming promising new young members of staff to the team and watching them grow in ability and develop their careers. There are excellent, highly trained nurses here.”

Hilary, who celebrated her 66th birthday on March 17, started at Highfield 19 years ago while John, also 66, was recruited a little later – 12 years ago – by the owner of Pendine Park, Mario Kreft MBE.

John said: “I had technically already retired from my job with the nursing home quality commission which inspects and monitors nursing home standards nationwide, but Mario assigned me a special project and after that he offered me a job as a nurse.

“I’ve never looked back. There’s a real family spirit about Pendine.”

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Pendine Nurses Hilary and John Mills who both retired on the same day. Photo: Mandy Jones

John and Hilary say that even though they were nearing retirement, they never stopped learning throughout their successful careers and this has been especially the case in recent years.

Hilary said: “With all the difficulties care homes have generally faced due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, we have all had to adapt our thinking and skills to deal with the ever-changing situation. .

“It was a tough two years where we learned new skills and different ways of approaching tasks.”

She and her husband say they have many happy memories of working at Highfield and meeting its diverse character.

Hilary said: “Working in a care home is different from a hospital because the patients are here long term so in many cases we get to know them over several years and develop a close bond with them.

“We had the honor of meeting wonderful people, all with different and interesting life stories to tell.”

Hilary and John, both originally from South Wales, moved to North Wales in the 1980s.

Having met when they were students, they married 45 years ago, when John was 19 and Hilary 18.

Hilary said: “Nursing was a calling for both of us. We were lucky to know from the start that this was the career we wanted to do.

“Eventually we got married just two weeks after being fully qualified.”

They now have two adult daughters, Sarah and Rebekah, who each have a young son.

As well as walking and exploring the countryside, Hilary and John are delighted to now have more time to spend with their two grandsons, 12-year-old Zac and eight-year-old Jonah.

Colleagues from Highfield arranged flowers and a cake to mark the couple’s retirement.

Pendine Park coach Laura Shone said: “John and Hilary have been here for so long. They are much loved by staff, residents and their families.

“We will all miss them deeply, but we wish them many happy times in retirement. We know they will stay in touch and we look forward to hearing more about their hikes and other adventures in retirement.”

Highfield’s assistant manager, Terri Broderick, added: “We are understandably sad to see Hilary and John leaving us, but we wish them both a long and happy retirement.

“We are grateful for the brilliant service they have given us in caring for our beloved residents and they have been great role models for the new generation to come so their legacy will live on.”

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