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Local trust celebrates 3,600 years of dedication to the NHS

Posted: 12 February 2024

Staff standing together holding an awardPictured above left is Cheryl Atkins (centre) with chairman Phil Townsend (left) and chief executive Matthew Coats (right). Pictured above right is Bruce Kerr (centre).

The trust’s 2024 long service awards highlighted staff who have dedicated 15 years or more service to the NHS. A total of 169 people were eligible for an award this year, amounting to over 3,600 years of service in total.

It was a special day for specialist infection prevention and control (IPC) support worker Cheryl Atkins who celebrated 45 years of continuous NHS service.

She has seen considerable change at West Herts over the past four decades, having begun her career as a trainee nurse at Watford General in 1976.

Cheryl worked in different wards around the trust until she moved to the IPC team in 2008, where she continues her career in a role which she says she loves.

She said: “Happiness is doing a job you absolutely adore. I started my time at West Herts’ school of nursing aged 19 as a pupil nurse at the Peace Memorial Hospital in Watford.

“I qualified in 1978 and my first position as a nurse was in Clarendon ward – which is where the IPC office is now! I could have retired last year, but why leave when you have a fabulously supportive boss and an incredible team.”

Bruce Kerr, simulation manager, marked 40 years of NHS service, having started his career in 1983 as an operating department assistant at Hemel Hempstead Hospital.

He worked in a number of different roles and in 2017 he moved into his current role as simulation manager in the trust’s education centre at Watford General.

Bruce said: “I have been given the opportunity to develop in my roles at West Herts including as an operating department practitioner, lead resuscitation officer and most recently as simulation manager. This culminated with me gaining my MSc in Medical and Healthcare Simulation, for which I am very grateful. It was wonderful to achieve my 40 years’ service and be recognised by the trust at the awards ceremony.

Congratulations to Bruce and Cheryl who together have given 85 years of service to West Herts and thank you to all the staff at the awards who have provided years of commitment to West Herts and the NHS.


  1. For more information, please contact the communications team on: 01923 436280 or email: Out of hours, please call the Watford General Hospital switchboard on 01923 244366 and ask for the on call communications manager.
  2. West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust serves people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three hospitals; Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead. The trust has a catchment area of over 600,000 people and is one of the largest employers locally, with around 5,800 staff and volunteers.
  3. For more information about our hospitals, visit You can also join us on Facebook, X (Twitter), YouTube and LinkedIn @WestHertsNHS