It’s a very special festive edition of In Conversation With this week, after we sat down with our Trust’s very own ‘Mrs Christmas’. Christine Pethers, admin support for our ophthalmology team, lives and breathes Christmas for the whole of December, from coaxing her colleagues to help create a Christmas chimney, to having a festive outfit for every day of the month!
Lives: In Collier Row with husband Keith, 61. They have two grown-up children, Colin, 35, and Laura, 32, as well as four step-grandchildren.
And: In a fitting birthday for a Christmas fanatic – Christine will celebrate her 61st birthday on Boxing Day!
What’s your role at our Trust?
I joined our Ophthalmology team around six years ago and my role includes sending out letters, helping with admissions and discharges, booking minor ops, and assisting blind or partially sighted patients to register with their local councils.
Tell us more about being a Christmas fanatic
My whole family is Christmas crazy! I think part of the reason I love it so much is because I was born on Boxing Day.
I didn’t like having it as a birthday as much when I was a child, as often my presents were combined, and I never got birthday cards in the post. It was my husband who helped change it as he said we’ll have Christmas, and then Boxing Day will be all about your birthday.
The whole family dresses in red and green and plays Christmas music to put up the decorations together. We start in November as we have so many – way too many to have up for just one month!
We do the full works – inside and outside the house, and the garden. I like to have a different theme and this year we’ve gone for reindeer with brilliant white as our colour.
We spend a lot on decorations – and it takes an entire weekend just to get them out of the loft!
I bring the festivities into work too – wearing Christmas outfits for as long as I can and getting the whole team involved. We loved creating our Christmas chimney; everyone in the office helped and brought in their own festive touches too, like Santa chair covers.
This is just the beginning, we plan to do it every year now and get bigger and better!
We hear you had a varied career before joining our Trust….
When I left school I started to work for the Law Society, where I dealt with complaints about solicitors – many of them were about the amount of money they charged just to send letters! It was a really interesting job.
I left when I had my son in 1984 and was a stay-at-home mum for over ten years raising my two children. After that I wanted to find a job which would fit around my family, so I became a childminder.
I had four kids, as well as my own two, so it was quite a challenge. It used to make me laugh as sometimes I’d get stopped in the street as I had so many kids with me who all looked different – I’d often tell people, ‘well, they’ve got different fathers!’
I did that for around seven years and as my kids were getting older, decided I wanted to do something different, which was how I ended up at our Trust.
I joined as clerical support in our medical secretariat in 2004, based in the Jubilee Centre at Oldchurch Hospital. The main hospital building was quite run-down but the Jubilee Centre was lovely – and we had windows!
I moved to Queen’s when it opened in 2006. The medical secretariat was disbanded so I moved to our Gastro team to provide clerical support. I stayed there until I joined our Ophthalmology team.
I love my job. There’s no part that I don’t like; I get a buzz speaking to patients and knowing I’m helping them and I take pride in what I do. I love working for the NHS.
What else do you like to get up to?
I’ve been involved in Scouting since my son first joined when he was eight – 27 years later I’m still doing it.
I was a beaver leader for about ten years, now I provide more of a support role. I really enjoy taking the children on camp, we go to Thriftwood and Hargreaves campsites, where I’m the cook.
Again, most of the family is involved. My husband was district commissioner for a time, now he’s chairman of our district, responsible for 16 groups. My daughter is also a leader for the 3rd Collier Row Scouts.
And I’ve recently joined a Latin dancing group. I go every week with my friend and earned the nickname ‘twinkle toes’ in the first session as I trod on the toes of the man I was dancing with.
I’m not a gym person so it’s a fun and different way to keep fit. I really enjoy it and every session flies by.
And my family are Disney crazy, we’ve being going to Disney World in Florida every year since 1993. We used to go with the whole family, now it’s mainly my husband and I, but we recently went with our son and his wife too.
We’re members of the Disney Vacation Club and every other year we do a Disney Cruise as well! The shows are amazing.
We went for the first time after my dad died. My mum wanted to treat the kids by taking them to meet Minnie and Mickey. We couldn’t really afford it, so she helped us to pay for it that first time.