HOSPITAL receptionist Brendan Tate – for so many years the public face of Bradford Royal Infirmary – has retired after more than 40 years’ service to the NHS.

Brendan, who unfortunately has been off work sick recently after a failed kidney transplant – his third transplant so far – wanted to wish his colleagues a ‘fond farewell’ despite it being from afar.

He said: “Forty-one years at the Trust seems like a lifetime. It’s flown in the blink of an eye but I’ve had the time of my life and thoroughly enjoyed it.

“I’ve worked with some lovely teams and met some incredible people during the course of my career.

“I’ll take the memories and friendships with me and they’ll sustain me as I head into retirement.”

Brendan, 59, from Sandy Lane, joined Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which operates both the BRI and St Luke’s Hospital, as a porter in September 1980 as a ‘stop gap’ when he was made redundant from a previous job and enjoyed it so much he ended up staying!

During his time as a porter he was even photographed by the Daily Mirror newspaper for an article on careers.

Site manager

By 1990, he’d worked his way up to portering manager before becoming assistant business planner in 1992. He then moved to act as site manager at St Luke’s Hospital before returning to BRI as assistant waiting list manager. Another move to security as their manager saw him return to the non-clinical department and transport team (now known as the facilities team).

Then in 2010, his health took a down turn and he decided to take a step back from management.

Early retirement beckoned on ill-health grounds, but Brendan couldn’t stay away and returned to front the BRI’s main reception desk. For the last 11 years, Brendan has courteously directed patients and visitors to their appointments and wards.

Having suffered from chronic glomerulonephritis – an infection which kills both kidneys – in his late teens, he was in his early 20s when his kidneys started failing.

In total, Brendan has undergone three transplants at St James’ Hospital, Leeds; the first in 1983, the second in January 1991 and finally the third in January 2020 which unfortunately failed within days.

He’s now back on home haemodialysis – a process he’s all too familiar with having spent almost 15 years of his life on it.

And while Brendan, who lives with his wife Kathy and has two sons, one of whom, Lewis works as an IT technician for the Trust, remains hooked up to a machine three times a week, he remains ever cheerful.

“I must admit I was in Jimmy’s for six weeks from January 8 to February 17 and it was a dark time when the transplant failed but I’m back home to Kathy and I need to get my strength back to get back on the list again. It won’t be a fast process.

“I was really poorly while in Jimmy’s and Kathy wasn’t allowed to visit so I never saw a human face for six weeks. The doctors and nurses were wearing PPE and face masks – you don’t realise how much not seeing a face means, not having that human contact and not being able to see people’s smiles of reassurance. That was really tough when you are not well.”

Thank you

Brendan added that he wanted to say a huge thank you to the renal, medical and surgical teams at the Trust, especially Dr John Stoves, recently retired Dr Robin Jeffrey, and Plastics Surgeon, Sharif Al-Ghazal.

He added: “I’ll miss the care and attention of the medical and renal teams, especially as they’ve been so supportive.

“I couldn’t have done my jobs without the help and backing of my wonderful colleagues – thanks to each and every one of you.

“No wonder the NHS is the envy of the world as people really do care and go above and beyond for their colleagues, as well as their patients.

“I’ve met some brilliant people and many who I consider friends for life … I’m just sad I am leaving … but you can’t stay forever.”

Once COVID quietens down and his health improves, Brendan hopes to be “back up the coast in my campervan” and having run-outs on his beloved Vespa and Lambretta scooters, having been a member of the Clayton Scooter Club since 2010.

Mel Pickup, Chief Executive of Bradford Teaching Hospitals, said: “Brendan, thank you for your devotion and long service to our hospitals. Your warm smile and hearty laugh will be much missed on our main concourse, but we wish you all the best for a happy, healthy and very long retirement!”