A HOSPITAL volunteer in his 90s has retired after 30 years of service.

Staff across three departments turned up for an afternoon tea to say farewell to the much-loved John Thorogood, 91, described as “the most wonderful gentleman”.

The former Westcliff High School for Boys teacher started his second career when computers were in their infancy.

He began volunteering in the hospital’s medical records department in May 1989, at a time where labels for folders containing patient notes were written out by hand.

From there he transferred to Castle Point Ward, following the team as the ward became first Kitty Hubbard and then Stambridge Ward. His role was to run errands and records across the hospital.

Mr Thorogood would unfailingly arrive by bus from his home in Leigh three mornings a week, until his failing eyesight meant the role became problematic.

He said: “Volunteering has given me a lot, a sense of purpose, and I have enjoyed every minute.”

Paying tribute, Stambridge ward manager Julie Londesborough, who has known and worked with Mr Thorogood for more than 20 years, said: “John is a lovely, lovely man and we can’t thank him enough for all he has done for us.”

Volunteering was not Mr Thorogood’s only interest. He his wife of 63 years, Karin Thorogood, set up and ran the popular Salvation Army charity shop off Broadway West in Southend for more than 33 years.

As well as having three children of their own, they also fostered two children, one of whom, Eileen Coley, works at the hospital as a rehab assistant.

Mr and Mrs Thorogood plan to meet up with hospital workers for lunch, and Mr Thorogood has an open invitation to pop in for a chat if he is passing.

Staff from medical records, clinical coding, and Stambridge ward clubbed together to present Mr and Mrs Thorogood with theatre vouchers.

Tessa Breakwell, a domestic who has known Mr Thorogood 25 years, said: “Although he can’t see very well, he always knows exactly who you are by your voice. He is the most wonderful man.”