SHE has been a supportive shoulder to cry on for hundreds of people coping with Parkinson’s Disease in the area.
And now, after 13 years helping to lead Parkinson’s UK Fareham and District Branch, specialist Parkinson’s nurse Linda Shaw is finally calling it a day.
The 62-year-old was given a fitting send-off by dozens of the group’s members during its coffee morning at the Crofton Community Centre, Stubbington Lane, Fareham.
Linda said: ‘It’s been wonderful. I have no regrets at all about my career.
‘I really will miss everyone a great deal – it’s like a big family.
‘Saying goodbye these last couple of weeks has been heart-wrenching.’
Linda played a pivotal role in getting the support group off the ground when she joined it in 2003.
Since then, the network of people she cares for has boomed, with some 950 on her books across the county – with 500 of these in Gosport and Fareham alone.
One of those she has helped is the branch’s vice-chairwoman, Valerie Rossiter, 71, whose husband John, 69, recently died after a long struggle against the degenerative neurological disease.
Valerie said: ‘When my husband was diagnosed Linda was the friend who got me through it. She really helped me get through those last six weeks.’
Linda started her nursing career later in life, at the age of 35, having worked in care homes before that.
‘Working in the homes made me realise that nursing is something that I really wanted to do as a job,’ she added.
She juggled family commitments with taking night classes to pass her O-levels.
On becoming a nurse, she worked at St Mary’s Hospital, rising to be a senior staff nurse. Paying tribute to her, Alan Causer, chairman of the Parkinson’s UK branch in Fareham, said: ‘She has been a tremendous character.
‘She is so well-liked and respected by the medical profession and by patients.
‘She’s had a significant impact on hundreds of people and will be sorely missed by so many.’
Linda, who lives with her husband Peter, 69, in Bridgemary Grove, Gosport, said she now wants to turn her attention to her family.
‘They’ve been so amazing, Peter especially. But I now want to be there for my grandchildren and children,’ said the grandmother-of-six.