A family with a combined 125 years’ worth of work and volunteering at the Royal Free London are still continuing their long association with the trust.

After 44 years working at the Royal Free Hospital (RFH) Susan Sanders is retiring and looking forward to spending more time at home and in the garden. But her husband Brett, who has worked for the trust for 17 years already, will still keep the family connection going in his role in the data quality team, based at Enfield Civic Centre.

Susan’s link with the RFH goes back even further than when she started work here in 1980. Her mother, Pam Simmonds, worked for 33 years at the hospital, joining when it was still based at Gray’s Inn Road. Pam started in outpatient medical records and worked in and ended up supervising the outpatient’s appointments team. This was followed by another decade volunteering with the Royal Free Volunteers, now the Royal Free Charity, where she assisted the audiology team. In her final years Pam continued her connection with the RFH as a dialysis patient.

But the family connection doesn’t end there - Susan’s aunt June, ran the RFH’s flower and gift shop, June’s Flowers, based on the ground floor of the main building, for 20 years.

Susan, who admits she got her first post thanks to her mother’s connections, started out as a relief clerk in outpatient services where she gained a broad knowledge of how the hospital ran. When the ambulance transport officer retired, she took on that role, arranging transport and dealing with hundreds of patients a week. A stressful job, as she did it alone, but one she embraced for the next 13 years.

She said: “I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter there was a lovely radiotherapy patient who came in every day for six weeks and would sit there knitting away. When she completed her treatment, she presented me with blankets and jackets for my baby.”

Both Susan’s daughter and son spent time at the trust, her daughter worked for a year at the trust in the finance team after she left school, and her son also did work experience with the finance team.
When she returned from maternity leave, Susan decided to move to another role where she liaised with GPs for funding. She finally moved to specialised services, where her job involved applying for funding for highly specialised drugs and medical devices and keeping track of costs. 

Reflecting on her time working at the trust, Susan said she had made lifelong friends and will be sorry to say goodbye to the “tight-knit” contracts team. 

She said: “I’ve seen so much in my time here and have lots of great memories but now it’s time to do something else. I’d like to do some volunteering work in the community or the primary school my children attended.”

Can you beat this family for total number of years working or volunteering at the Royal Free London? Let us know by contacting us on rf.communications@nhs.net.

125 years: Susan, 44 years, Pam, 43 years (33 for the Royal Free Hospital and 10 for the charity, Brett, 17 years, Susan’s daughter, 1 year, June, 20 years).