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Painter Tommy brushes off platitudes with a smile as 50-year Health Board service ends


A popular character around Glan Clwyd Hospital has brushed his last stroke after more than 50 years brightening the lives of colleagues and patients.

Painter and decorator Tommy Stone finally gave work the brush-off after 50 years and four months, during which time he raised as many smiles as he did ladders during his dedicated service.

In front of dozens of colleagues, friends and family, a clearly emotional Tommy heard tributes from his bosses and workmates, including the Central Integrated Health Community’s (IHC) director of operations – and Health Board chair Dyfed Edwards.

Yet, despite his larger than life persona, humble Tommy was taken aback by the outpouring of affection directed at him.

He said: “I didn’t expect all this. It makes you emotional because you don’t realise how people care.”

Dyfed Edwards, chair of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, echoed Tommy’s feelings.

He said: “I feel quite emotional because I can’t think of anybody who has done that work, day-in, day-out, week-in, week-out with that dedication.

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“The people I speak to say, not only he was a good worker but a great human being. That contribution, on that level, does make a difference to the workforce and it does make a difference to those we serve.

“I want to say a heartfelt thanks to Tommy for his dedication and wish him well in whatever the next part of his life brings.”

Tommy started as an apprentice painter on July 9, 1973, aged 16, at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Rhyl. His first weekly wage was just £8 per week.

He passed his apprenticeship in 1977 and stayed at the Alex for three more years, until Glan Clwyd Hospital opened in 1980.

Initially, he was asked to go over to the new hospital site and complete small painting jobs – but ended up staying for another 43 years.

Once at Glan Clwyd he gained a reputation for being able to put a smile on the faces of his colleagues and patients he met along the way – a gift which gained him many friends across the site.

One, now the Central IHC’s director of operations, was Alyson Constantine, who first met Tommy 39 years ago as a young scientist beginning her career.

Speaking to him at the event on Friday, she said: “When I started in 1983, people like Tommy made the day, the session, the shift, so much better.

“I would wander down the corridor and you and Brynle would be pretending to do your busy work - and jump 39 years forward and you’re…”

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At this point Tommy chipped in, “…still pretending…” to whoops of laughter - at which point one colleague shouted out, “he’s still got the same brush”, to yet more laughter.

It seemed a fitting tribute to someone who had worked so diligently, yet obviously brought so much joy to those around him.

Tommy received a crystal plaque to mark his service and a letter from incoming CEO Carol Shillabeer was read out, congratulating him on his “dedicated career” within the NHS in North Wales.

It continued: “Having contributed more than 50 years to your local NHS you must surely be unique.

“I know that you will have seen so many changes over the years and sincerely hope you will look back with pride at the contribution you have made.”

Summing up the best parts of his working life at the hospital, Tommy said: “The best bit has been meeting lovely people.

“You see so many different characters through life and they say and do so many funny things. The best parts have just been every day really.

“In hospital it’s like a little community – a little family. In a private company you don’t get that.

“I would just like to thank everybody for what they have given me and it’s been so emotional with such a big turn out.”

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