There were emotional scenes at Orange Hospital on Monday as a much-loved member of staff celebrated her 50th work anniversary.
Robyn James had been a switchboard operator - or telephonist - at the health service since 1971 - first at the old Orange Base Hospital and then at the new facility. During her long years of service, Mrs James appeared to have had a sizeable impact on many.
Tears were shed by many of those who gathered to celebrate the hospital stalwart with speeches, flowers and gifts. Among them was Mrs James' manager Leanne Wright who described her as "an absolute delight to work with".
"When I was collecting some intel from your closest work buddies they only had praise for you and the work you do here at the hospital," she told Mrs James.
"They recognised you as a person that truly cares, a person of high integrity, and [a] person that is deeply committed to what you do every day and have done so for the past 50 years."
I've loved every minute of being in this hospital.Robyn James
Hospital General Manager Catherine Nowlan described working with Mrs James as a "privilege".
Fellow colleague Fran Ferguson chimed in that Mrs James "always had the answers to everything we needed."
"Whenever we've rung the switchboard she's been there to guide us," she added. Choking slightly on a sob, Ms Ferguson told those gathered how Mrs James was even there to support her colleagues when they faced hardship in their personal lives; finishing her short speech by telling Mrs James: "We love you very much".
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Mrs James fought tears and her voice quivered with emotion as she tried to find the words to thank her colleagues for the touching tribute.
"I must say, I feel the lucky one. I really do feel the lucky one," she said. "I've loved every minute of being in this hospital - old and new. [I've] made heaps and heaps of friends and I like everybody... Everybody's got something to offer."
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