Emotions ran high for long-standing hospital boss Lorraine Lambert as she officially left her post.
The mum-of-two retired yesterday after 18 years as chief executive of South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust.
It feels strange to be leaving after all this time. I’ve made so many friends, they’re just like family really.Lorraine Lambert
She was joined at South Tyneside District Hospital in Harton Lane, South Shields, by colleagues who wished her well as she left her post.
Mrs Lambert, who is mum to Collabro star Jamie, 25, and Caytee, 22, said: “I’ve had lots of farewell events but this was the big one and I am quite emotional.
“It feels strange to be leaving after all this time. I’ve made so many friends, they’re just like family really.
“They’re all fantastic people and I’ll miss them very much.”
Mrs Lambert, from Washington, has worked for the NHS for 36 years.
She spent 20 years of her career at South Tyneside District Hospital and the last 18 in the role she retires from.
She started her career in administration with Gateshead Health Authority in 1979.
From there, she went to Gateshead’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and then to the borough, where she was in charge of commissioning the new Palmer Community Hospital, in Jarrow, in 1986.
She said: “My plans are to just do nothing for a while.
“I’m going to Japan with Collabro in November for their tour and Caytee and I are planning a trip to New Zealand, and I’m planning a cruise with my sister as well, so lots of social engagements but that’s all I’ve got planned for now.
“I’ll probably spend a lot of time walking the dog and doing photography, which is something I’ve always enjoyed.
“Someone asked me if I’m going to miss the seat of power and I said ‘no, I’ll miss the people’. It’s not about the seat of power, it’s about the wonderful people I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years.
“The NHS is our greatest institution and I’m proud of what we’ve done and know I’m leaving things in good hands.”