When Kay Davison walked out of Sutherland Hospital after completing her last nursing shift, a crowd of more than 200 gathered to see her off.
It was a fitting way to end a career that spanned more than six decades.
The former after-hours nurse manager completed her last shift at 7am on April 26 and was met with a guard of honour organised by her co-worker Seng Lum.
Among those to surprise her was her best friend, Robyn Price, who had an old-style nursing uniform made for the occasion. The two met as trainee nurses in 1960 at Sutherland Hospital.
"We met on our first day. In those days nurses trained for four years and you had to live in the nurses home, but we loved it. That is where the friendships were cemented," Mrs Davison said.
She said she and Robyn were very competitive during their training.
"If I said I was shown a new procedure that day, she would say 'Oh I haven't done that yet'," Mrs Davison said, adding they would also have trolley races through the wards when they were on night shift together to see who could deliver the early morning cups of tea the fastest.
Mrs Davison, of Port Hacking, was known to most of the staff at Sutherland Hospital thanks to her incredible 61-year nursing career, and was only interrupted by the births of her three children.
"They didn't have maternity leave back when I had my babies, so you had to resign and then re-apply when you wanted to come back," she said.
"Everyone at Sutherland Hospital has called me Mrs Davison for about 40 years.
"The formal greeting was commonplace for senior nursing staff throughout my career."
She is thought to be the longest-standing staff member at the hospital and has worked in a number of departments, including the cardiac ward.
She is also a trained midwife and holds a degree in health administration, and held teaching positions and leadership roles in the high dependency unit and emergency department.
She said she decided to work only night shifts after she missed her youngest child's Easter hat parade at school.
"Initially it was so my husband and I could be fully caring for our children. I missed a lot of sleep but I never missed an Easter hat parade again," she said.
Mrs Davison, 78, worked as the night manager for more than 41 years and said she "loved every minute" of her career.
"Nursing is a wonderful profession and I had a lot of fun all the way through my career," he said.
"I feel very lucky I worked at Sutherland Hospital.
"As someone that loved my job and loved the patients and their families I cared for, I always tried my best to do my part to see that their journey in the hospital was as good as it could be.
"Part of that is also caring for the staff who look after those patients."
Mrs Davison's brother Raymond McIntosh described his sister, who holds a NSW Premier's Award for her service, as a "genuine quiet achiever who has devoted herself to the hospital in many capacities".
"Kay is well known to the local medical, ambulance and police for her help over the years," he said.
A farewell attended by 200 guests was held at Hazelhurst Arts Centre on May 5.
While her daughter-in-law has compiled a bucket list of activities for her to do now she is retired, her plan is simply to hit the open road.
"I have a Lexus convertible and I love to drive. I plan to drive everywhere once the borders open and just keep going."
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