I was appointed catering manager of the four Kendal hospitals in 1976. I had to take early retirement, due to failing eyesight, in 1986. Those ten years were the best of my working life.

The main hospital, Westmorland County Hospital (WCH), was small enough for everyone to know everyone else. As a result it was the friendliest hospital in which I’d ever worked or known.

There was a separate Doctors' dining room but the main staff dining room was for all other grades of staff. This, again, led to an open, social, atmosphere.

Sisters and nurses queued behind porters for their meals. The hospital secretary (the boss) could often be seen eating or drinking coffee with porters, gardeners or maintenance staff.

Then there was the matron - yes, there were still matrons in those days and it was the better for it in my opinion.

In terms of administration and management staff, the hospital secretary had a deputy. These two had overall responsibility for the day-to-day administration of WCH and Helme Chase.

In the Main Office there was Stuart, a senior clerical officer; Elizabeth and Molly, clerical officers and Sheila, the hospital secretary’s secretary.

Kendal Green and Meathop were administrated by a senior clerical officer, with a secretary both based at Kendal Green.

There was also a buildings and works officer, who was responsible for all works staff - painters, plumbers, engineers, electricians, joiners and gardeners. So, a total of nine administrative staff looking after four hospitals on four separate sites.

I wonder how that compares with today - with a single hospital on one site. Also remember there where no computers or smart ‘phones in the 1970s.

Stuart was astonishing. His knowledge of the hospital was amazing. 'Where’s Stuart?’ someone would ask. ‘In the plaster-room, doing broken limbs because the plaster technician can’t get in.’ ‘Where’s Stuart?’ ‘In the mortuary helping with a post mortem - the technician is sick’.

I went in one morning to find him with a trolley, loaded with milk. “What on earth are you doing?” I asked. “Oh, the porters are on strike and somebody has to take milk to the wards.” I could go on with stories of staff helping each other in this way.

My job was made so enjoyable mainly because of the high calibre of the catering staff. In Westmorland County, Keith the head cook was well qualified and had worked as head chef at a couple of prestigious local hotels.

He was conscientious, dependable and hard working.

Steven, Eleanor and Dorothy (Dot) were equally as good. Steven had trained at Kendal College and was just as good as Keith. Eleanor was a dab hand at making ginger snaps and Dot had trained as a confectioner and was superb.

Incidentally, Dot is now well known in a different field. Dorothy Whiteman - interior decorator and soft furnishing at Lupton.

There were three part-time night cooks, all of whom were great. They worked together on sorting out their holidays or changing days off without bothering me.

Then there were Cath and Mavis - supervisors at Kendal Green and Helme Chase hospitals respectively, both equally competent.

The three cooks at Meathop were totally reliable and proficient. I just visited once or twice a week - as much for a chat as for a managerial visit.

The domestics assistants were just as good.

I had a wonderful ten years as catering manager here in Kendal. Consequently I would like to say a big thank you to all of those great people who helped to make it happen.