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Christmas is a normal working day for us
WHILE most of us are watching the Queen's Speech, the Doctor Who Christmas special or tucking into our turkey but for some, it is a normal working day.
We all take it for granted that help is available for us 24 hours a days seven days a week, even on December 25.
But behind the uniform of these dedicated people, there are real people – whose time with their family is often postponed.
Dr Caroline Howard, is the consultant in charge of all others at Southend Hospital’s A&E department.
She has been a doctor since 1996. This year she is working on Boxing Day, and has worked many times on Christmas Day and one year worked on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
The Hockley resident said: “Essentially the rota runs over Christmas Day and New Years Day which are just normal days for us.
“We work a six hour shift in the hospital but from 8am one morning until 8am the next we are on call and will come in for any trauma calls or anything that needs clinical advice or input.”
But she is relaxed about the situation: “It’s an accepted part of my life that I’m going to have my fair share of working over Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve, I’ve got used to it,” she said.
“My husband is very supportive of me, he accepts us moving the celebration a day or two. This Boxing Day we’ll have a meal together and it may be that we’re having the meal and I’ll get a call to leave, but he’s used to that.”
Carer Shaila Rashid helps make the lives of the people who live in Admiral Court Care Home in Manchester Drive, Leigh, a little bit special on Christmas Day.
Shaila, 48, from Thorpe Bay, said; “I worked last Christmas as well and really enjoyed it.
“We welcome in people’s families, have a traditional dinner, play games, it’s a wonderful family atmosphere.
“For us at Admiral it’s about every day though, not just Christmas day, we try to make every day special for our residents.
“I am really looking forward to the day though as it doesn’t feel like working. We don’t wear uniform, so we don’t stand out as staff, lots of families come to visit, we have mince pies and watch the Queen’s speech and we all feel like a big family.
“Some residents go home with their families but it’s important to be here for those who don’t have any family as well.
“Our activities coordinator plans events for the day and we have a big cinema room upstairs if people want to watch Christmas movies.
“My 25-year-old son Omar has volunteered to cook the dinner at home, he did it last year and had it ready for me when I got home.
“He has three sisters to cook for as well but he is really looking forward to it.”
And of course, for clergymen Christmas Day is one of the busiest of the year.
The Rev Canon Mike Lodge, rector of the Holy Trinity Church in Rayleigh, was ordained 24-years-ago.
He said: “The day is a great celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and it is great to be involved in it.”
The season sees Rev Canon Lodge helping to put on carol and Christingle services at the church in the run up to the day, and then he is out early to lead two services on Christmas morning itself.
“A huge amount of work goes into making the services special for people, whether they come to church regularly or just once a year we want it to be a special time for them.
“Christmas is very much about family, it’s lovely to be able to be a part of many family’s celebrations.
“It’s been a bit of a sacrifice for my family for about 20 years or so my children never saw me in the morning as I’m off taking services.
“But for me it’s lovely to share services with other families and then come back to mine and spend time with them, there’s sort of a double joy of that.”
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