Five minutes with...

I was 17 years of age and I was the youngest shift porter in the team.

Tommy Weldridge

 
Time 735 days ago Comments 0 comments
 

How long have you worked at Wythenshawe Hospital?

I've been here since the 12th May 1969. I was 17 years of age and I was the youngest shift porter in the team. My mother used to work here as a nurse and my father was a porter.

You must enjoy the job – what do you like best about it?

I adore the job. The fun part is when you see a person coming in that's very distressed and very ill and then you see them walk out after you've looked after them. Helping the patients is what I do best and making people laugh when they're feeling down.

A rewarding job then?

Yes, I have patients coming up to me in restaurants when I'm out saying I pushed them into theatre ten years ago - and I have no clue who they are! I pushed Emma's (Emma Mcwhirter – Sodexo deputy services manager at Wythenshawe Hospital) mother into maternity when she was having her and I had no idea.

What are the main duties of a hospital porter?

We do a heck of a lot more than people think. Assisting morticians, moving people who have died, delivering the meals, sorting out the laundry and rubbish, and moving patients in and out of theatre. Our roles gets bigger and bigger.

What skills do you need for the role?

You need a good outgoing personality and you need to be able to speak to people. Also you need to be able to understand their pain, understand their grief, and understand that they're upset because we deal with people who are ill and at their lowest ebb. And a person who can smile and make people smile as I try to do. If I can make at least one person smile a day that's what I'll do.

You turned 65 recently, how did your team mark the occasion?

I got a number of presents from them, which was nice. I walked round with a silly hat all day and a badge marked 65. They had a collection for me which I didn't expect and I got some lovely presents and a card which I will always keep.

Any interesting stories from over the years?

We had a police officer who came in and they asked me to show him how to take a body to the mortuary and stuff like that. So whilst taking him into the mortuary I was telling him all the bits and pieces. As I was walking around, I suddenly noticed I was talking to myself. I looked around and there was nobody behind me. So I opened the back door and I saw the guy had fainted outside. Two of my colleagues had to pick him up off the floor and take him to casualty!

What's the biggest change you've seen?

The biggest change is the technology and the way they train porters. When I first started we had no training and all they gave me was a brown coat, a wheelchair, and a note and off you went. These days we have to be properly trained. The role has got greater and it's becoming a more professional service, which is good. We're now more appreciated and more part of the team.

Do you have a close-knit team at Wythenshawe?

Yeah we do, we have a lot of fun and laughs but the managers are always close to us and we're always close to them and we appreciate the way they look after us and we look after them. We have a lot of team spirit within our group.

I understand you've won a couple of awards?

I was runner-up for porter of the year 2014 and I've been awarded numerous on-the-spot awards. I was also a union safety rep and I've been an acting branch secretary for my union.

 

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