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NHS Wales hospital porter celebrates 53rd year on the job

a man waving at camera
Robert Collins (Photo: Aneurin Bevan University Health Board)

A 70-year-old hospital porter with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board has no signs of slowing down after 53 years on the job.

Robert Collins said he’s got no plans to retire his blue uniform anytime soon.

“I enjoy coming to work” is his reply to friends when they ask why he’s still going. Rob started as a porter in 1970 at Pen-y-Fal Hospital in Abergavenny. Coming from the pits, he found his first day as a porter a bit intimidating.

a hospital porter pushing a chair
Robert at work in Ebbw Vale (Photo: Aneurin Bevan University Health Board)

Lucky for Rob, his mum made him go back for his second day and he hasn’t looked back since. Being a porter “was my calling from day one”, he added. After Pen-y-Fal, Rob moved to Tredegar General Hospital in Blaenau Gwent and in 2010 transferred to the new Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan Hospital in Ebbw Vale where he still works today, taking care of patients and inspiring his colleagues.

Porters provide essential services to support clinical staff. In a typical day they can be seen doing anything from transporting patients throughout the hospital, delivering posts and parcels to wards, transporting food trolleys, and picking up and delivering blood samples for pathology and medicine for the pharmacy.

Tracey Cullen, a support officer at Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan said, “The porters are the unseen cogs within the hospital, without them the service could not function”.

Rob said: “We do anything from seven miles a day upwards, so there is no need to go to the gym at the end of the day.” He said his favourite part of being a porter is the difference he can make to a patient’s time in hospital.

“During Covid, myself and my colleagues, we’d take the visitors round outside”, said Rob. I’d go up to the ward and say to the visitors, now mum is at that third window across, and they’d wave to their mum. It was a moving experience”, he added. “They sent a little letter in thanking us and I thought, oh gosh, I’ve helped a little bit”.

He added that every patient “could be a member of my family, so I treat them as hopefully my family will be treated”.

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NHS Wales hospital porter celebrates 53rd year on the job