Identical twin sisters who nurse at the Conquest have devoted 80 years service to the NHS

Two identical twin sisters at the Conquest Hospital have jointly given 80 years’ service to the NHS.

Debbie Barnes works on the Kipling children’s ward at the hospital, while twin Denise Smith is a midwife at the Conquest,

Debbie’s daughter Kait Ollerenshaw was born in the Buchanan Hospital in St Leonards, where her mum worked as a nurse.

She said: “My mum and her twin sister have always been inseparable and pretty much done everything together through their life.

Twins Debbie and Denise today. Both are still nurses at the Conquest SUS-210721-064115001

“Mum trained to be a nurse at the Bristol Royal Infirmary in 1981, and my Auntie trained to be a midwife at the same time in Coventry. They worked at their hospitals in Bristol and Coventry.

“In 1986 my Auntie moved to Rye and got a job at the Buchanan Hospital as a midwife.

“Of course my mother wanted to be close to her sister, so a year later in 1987 moved to Milward Road in Hastings and also got a job at the Buchanan Hospital, with both of them working in the Special Care Baby Unit.

They both got married when in Hastings.

Denise pictured earlier in her nursing career SUS-210721-064105001

When I was born in the Buchanan in 1991, my Auntie was the midwife!

“My mother then became a health visitor working in Hastings, and my auntie moved to the new Conquest Hospital when it was built.

“My auntie carried on being a midwife for all these years, and my mum spent her later years in child protection and then as the designated nurse for safeguarding in East Sussex.

“They are now aged 58, and my mum has slowed down the pace from being a high-performing member of child protection, returning to her love of nursing for children.Mum is now working on Kipling Ward at the Conquest Hospital. My auntie is still a midwife at the Conquest.

Twin sisters 80 years of service with NHS Debbie SUS-210722-120329001

“They are both amazing, caring women with 40 years of dedicated service working for the NHS each.”

Debbie and Denise’s love and passion of working in hospitals has rubbed off on their children as Denise’s daughter, Alex, 32, is a nurse in Stafford while Kait works in midwifery in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London.

Kait said: “They both thought about retiring at the age of 55 as they were eligible to, but being true to their love for the job, they’ve both stayed working all the way through the Covid pandemic.

“It is a fantastic achievement for them both and they have both given so much to the community.

“They are both loved by so many in the hospital and are amazing women. Myself and my two sisters and my cousin Alex are so proud of them.

“Mum now lives on the Ridge at Hastings while my auntie lives in Bodiam.”