ON her very first day at Charing Cross Hospital's baby unit Jillian Goldbart knew that she had found a job for life.

Over her exemplary career spanning nearly half a century she has cared for babies and trained nurses as far afield as the Sudan.

Now the neonatal nurse has said goodbye to her colleagues at the Dorset County Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit and entered a well-earned retirement.

Mrs Goldbart said: “I will miss the babies. The pleasure of caring for babies never wore off – I’m still fascinated by them.”

Born in Dartmoor in 1951, Mrs Goldbart travelled extensively in her youth owing to her military father.

Her decision to enter the career that would come to be her passion was almost taken on a whim.

She said: “A friend of mine wanted to go into nursing, but I hadn’t really thought about it.

“I started by doing my orthopaedic training in April 1968 when I was 17-and-a-half years old.

“Then I went to Northampton to do my State Registered Nursing (SRN) training.

“In those days you trained in a hospital, you didn’t go to university.

“Each hospital had its own nursing school where the trainees were the work force – a bit like an apprenticeship.”

One of her first jobs after she finished training was at Great Ormond’s Street Hospital in London but she wasn’t there long before a job came up in Charing Cross Hospital to work on a baby unit.

She said: “I walked into the unit on my very first day and a baby in an incubator was looking up at me.

“I just thought: this is it, I don’t want to do anything else and I never have.”

Because Mrs Goldbart wanted to go into neonatal nursing, she had to do more training. This was undertaken over six months from the end of 1975 to 1976 at University College Hospital in London.

Having completed her training she was offered a sister’s post at Whittington Hospital, which she described as the moment things got “really exciting”.

Later, she returned to UCH and eventually found herself working in Bath.

During her time in Bath she took part in the creation of a new qualification in neonatal care: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.

With her colleagues, she travelled to six neonatal units over America and when she arrived back home in Britain became one of the first through on the brand new course she had helped devise.

She said: “It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.

“I would sit there in lectures and think: I was part of creating this.

“I was really lucky.

“My colleagues in Bath were very supportive, there for me all the time and encouraging.

“It was the best thing I have ever done.

“You get to work in both parts, doing the medical and nursing side of things.”

She came to Dorset County Hospital in 1998 from Reading after hearing from a manager at the hospital that a position had opened up.

The new role was a hybrid post, half manager and half neonatal nurse practitioner, but in 2000 a friend came and took over the managerial role.

When she was 57 she met her husband Len Goldbart and they married in 2007 and from then on worked part time.

On June 16, the staff at the SCBU bid Mrs Goldbart goodbye.

She said: “It’s a very close knit team with the medical and nursing sides working together.

“Different levels of experience work together and we help the junior members.

“When it’s intense and there’s a lot going on, everyone just binds together.”