Spare a thought for

TODAY we say a big THANK-YOU to all the people who will be working on Christmas Day.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 3rd January 2012, 8:07 am

While the rest of us are eating and drinking and making merry they will be turning up for work as normal.

Whether part of the emergency services, caring for our sick animals, or serving us in a shop or restaurant, they will all be on hand to help if we need them.

Guardian Feature Writer Helen Johnston talked to some of the people keeping things going this Christmas.

Senior Sister Mandy Lyle is expecting it to be busier than usual in Accident and Emergency at Bassetlaw Hospital.

She will spend the morning opening presents with her husband Andrew and two children Emily and Andrew before heading off for work at 12.30pm.

She will work until 8.30pm and then will be back in on Boxing Day at 7.30am until 3.30pm.

Mandy, 46, of Water Meadows, Worksop, said: “We’re usually very busy from lunchtime onwards. People try to manage until after they’ve had their Christmas dinner.”

“We tend to see children who are unwell, like with temperatures, and also the elderly who know they don’t have access to their GP that day.”

“The wards might be a bit more relaxed on Christmas Day but for us it’s just like any other day.”

She has worked alternate Christmases over the years, working nights when her children were small.

She said now Emily, 14, and Andrew, 12, are older they appreciate that their mum’s job involves unsocial hours.

“They understand that there are poorly children out there who need someone to look after them on Christmas Day and they have got used to my job,” said Mandy.

“We will be having our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve.”

Some of the nurses wear a bit of tinsel round their badges but Christmas is low key in A&E.

“We have to be sensitive to the fact that we can be dealing with quite traumatic and sad incidents,” Mandy said.

Carer Sharon Keep won’t miss out on spending time with her seven grandsons, despite having to be up at 5.30am to get ready for work.

The 63-year-old, of Ambleside Grange, Worksop, works for SJW and has been a carer for 20 years.

She will be working from 7am-12pm, with the possibility of another shift from 4-9pm if need be.

Sharon said: “I volunteered to work, I’ve worked Christmas Day before over the years. I’ll be seeing about 10 to 12 people and helping mainly with their personal care, such as getting washed and dressed, and making sure they get their medication.”

“I might even be serving meals. They all have different health problems but are usually in good spirits on Christmas Day.”

Sharon, who has two daughters and a son, said her husband David will be cooking their Christmas dinner for all the family to celebrate together.

“He’s fine about me working because he knows it’s part of the job and we’re still going to have a lovely day,” she said.

“I’m used to getting up early as well so feeling tired won’t be a problem for me.”

As a muslim, Dr Tarek Dihan isn’t too concerned about missing Christmas at home, although he and his family will still be exchanging presents.

Dr Dihan, 45, will be working from Christmas Eve right through to Boxing Day morning in the respiratory medicine department at Bassetlaw Hospital.

On Christmas Day he will arrive at work at 8am to do the ward rounds and see anybody who has been brought in overnight.

Depending on how many hours this takes, he might get chance to go home to Retford before returning to work at 4pm for another few hours.

He will also be on call the whole time so if there are any emergencies he will be contacted at home.

He said: “I have three children aged 17, 15 and 10 and we will be having presents, but I don’t really mind when I open mine.”

“We have a rolling rota to be on call every eighth weekend and my weekend is Christmas. I don’t mind though, you have to be there for your patients.”

“I will swap with someone if they want Christmas off because I might want someone to swap with me for one of my religious feast days, so it works both ways.”

Dr Dihan has been a doctor for 20 years and is married to Nawal Omrani, who is also a doctor, although not working at present.

He said: “It’s normally a good atmosphere in the hospital at Christmas with good stuff to eat and everybody still in a festive mood.”

News doesn’t take a break over Christmas, and neither do the Guardian staff.

Chief reporter Chantal Spittles will be phoning all the emergency services at 8.30am on Christmas morning to check what’s been happening.

And if necessary she will writing stories for our websites to keep our readers up to date with the latest news.

Chantal, 31, is the ‘calls’ reporter for Christmas Day, which means she has to keep in touch with the police and fire services in four counties.

She said: “I will be ringing fire and police stations in Notts, South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire.If something big has happened then I will have to go out and cover it and then get the story on our websites.”

If an incident needs covering Chantal will also contact an on-duty photographer to get pictures,

Chantal said it was hard to relax until she knew whether or not she was going to have to head out.

She will be spending Christmas with her parents in Mansfield and after doing the calls will exchange presents before helping her mum with the dinner.

Batteries are the main reason why assistants Dean Taylor and Sharon Roberts will be busy at Dukeries Filling Station on St Anne’s Drive in Worksop.

It will be open from 10am to 2pm - and they are expecting to be rushed off their feet.

“Most people come in for batteries for toys and things they’ve bought as Christmas presents,” said Dean, 27, of Clarence Road, who is looking forward to his first Christmas as a dad.

“They also come in buying food and alcohol. Last year when we were shutting we had people asking us why we weren’t staying open all day.”

Sharon, 34, of Manton, said they also had people queuing up to get in when they opened. She will be opening presents with her husband Alan before work and then going to a neighbour’s for dinner afterwards.

Dean and partner Emma Black have a new baby daughter Mia and he will be opening presents with them before heading into work.

Afterwards he will meet up with them at Emma’s mum’s house for dinner.

Green watch manager Ian Cooper and his team will be cooking their Christmas dinner at Worksop fire station.

And they don’t have to worry about leaving the gas on if they get called out on a job - everything trips out automatically whenever they receive an emergency call.

Ian, 46, of Retford, will be doing a 12-hour shift from 7am to 7pm on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

“We work on a rota system and it’s just fallen unlucky for us this year,” he said.

Ian has grown-up children and said his partner Susan accepted that working Christmas was part of his job.

“She will be going to her parents’ house and looking after our Border Collie Badgerine, but she can come to the station if she gets fed up. We let families come and have a drink with us if they want, non-alcoholic of course,” he laughed.

He said in past Christmases they had been called out to chimney fires caused by people throwing wrapping paper on open fires and one year there was a mini tornado in Retford which wrecked four bungalows.

“We have also been called out to road traffic collisions where people have been rushing to get somewhere for Christmas dinner.”

Ian’s top fire safety tip for Christmas is not to overload sockets. “One plug, one socket. And be careful with candles, keep them away from the cards,” he said.He also advised unplugging appliances when not in use.

Vet Mike Brown remembers the first time he ever worked Christmas Day when he ended up pulling a 3ft piece of tinsel out of a cat’s tummy.

“Luckily there was a bit sticking out of its mouth so we gave it some lubricant and then managed to pull it out. We were lucky because it was a friendly, placid cat,” said Mike, who works at Wildbore Vets in Worksop.

Another year he had to operate on a labrador which had been run over and had two broken legs and a neck wound. “It made a full recovery and even though its owners live in Ashbourne in Derbyshire they still come back to us,” said Mike.

He has been a vet for 18 years and will be working alongside nurse Ruth Gregory on Christmas Day from 8am to 6pm.

Mike is married and said his wife Fiona understood that working Christmas was part of a vet’s job. “She will be cooking Christmas dinner for when I get home. I might have a turkey sandwich at work during the day.”

They will open their presents before Mike goes to work, with their 10-year-old Jack Russell Terrier Cross Homer and their four-and-a-half cats.

“We have a half share in a cat called Mr Smokey with our next door neighbours. He just turned up one day and we started looking after him.”

Mike, who lives in the Carlton Road area of Worksop, said as well as dealing with emergency cases on Christmas Day, he would also be looking after any in-patients at Wildbore’s premises on Turner Road.

Waitress Samantha McManus will have to wait for her own Christmas dinner while she spends the day serving other people with theirs.

And the food she dishes up in the Lion Hotel’s restaurant could well have been cooked by her chef boyfriend Luke Shepherd, who will be one of several chefs manning the kitchen. First though, 19-year-old Samantha, of Manton, will be tackling the breakfast shift from 8am.

She said: “We have people staying in the hotel for Christmas so I will be serving breakfasts. The dinners will be served between 12pm and 2pm.”

Diners will have a choice of three things for each course, with a fourth vegetarian option for the main course.

When she finishes at 4pm, Samantha will be heading home to her mum and three younger brothers.

“My mum will be making a traditional Christmas dinner with turkey and we’ll probably open our presents then, although I tend to get money rather than presents now,” said Sam, who went to Portland school and has worked at the Lion Hotel for three years.

Luke, 26, of Gateford, will be working from 7am to 5pm, cooking about 40 pre-ordered meals. He said: “We’ll be preparing the veg first thing and then getting straight on with the dinners. It’s usually a bit more hectic than usual.”

“I’ll probably manage to grab a snack during the day.”