While many 80-year-olds would expect a bit of pampering on the eve of their special birthday not Betty Wright.
She turned up for her early morning shift as normal at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.
The nursing assistant, believed to be the oldest in Scotland, has spent the last 54 years caring for others.
Colleagues held a surprise party for her last Thursday at the end of her shift on Ward A31.
Initially shocked as fellow nurses and staff gave her a huge round of applause as she entered the staff room, she then joked: “I can’t believe it. I thought we had come for a wee bit of cake out of the fridge ahead of my birthday.”
Accepting a pile of gifts, flowers, cake and balloons, she added: “I didn’t think I was so well known, I just come to do my work and then go away home.”
Betty joined the health service as a domestic at the former Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary and then became a nursing auxiliary, working with the out-of-hours district nurses at Falkirk before joining the local staff bank.
Recalling her earlier days of nursing when there were no hoists or stand aids, he spoke of patients having to be moved and lifted manually.
The dress code was strict – white triangle caps, grey uniforms piped with white and a pillbox hat for nurses looking after patients in the community.
She said: “When you saw Miss Cadger, the matron, you didn’t even breathe when passing her!”
Betty, who was widowed last year, has two sons, one daughter, six grandchildren and twin great grandchildren. She lives in Larbert.
As well as looking after her family, she has dedicated her life to caring for tens of thousands of patients from across Forth Valley.
Charge nurse Rosario Walshe described her as “hard working, dedicated, caring and kind, a remarkable lady who thinks of nothing of going home from an early shift and painting a fence or cutting the grass”.
Betty said her secret to staying young was “hard work”, adding: “I don’t smoke and I’m not a drinker. I don’t want to be an old wife sitting in a chair – working is my life and I hope God gives me strength to carry on.”
Professor Angela Wallace, NHS Forth Valley’s director of nursing, said: “Betty is a credit to the nursing profession and much loved by local patients and staff. It’s fantastic that she is still working and it’s obvious that she really enjoys what she does.”
Although Betty has no plans to retire, she did say that she wasn’t available for a morning shift on January 6 – instead she was going out with her daughter to celebrate her birthday.