A HIGHLY-respected psychiatric nurse who has worked in York for 50 years is retiring.

Eric Dower, 67, from Huntington, has worked in mental health since the 1960s, starting as a junior ward orderly at Clifton Hospital and qualifying as a psychiatric and general nurse and manager.

He has working predominantly with people with severe and chronic schizophrenia during his career.

Tomorrow, the community psychiatric nurse who works with York’s west sector community mental health team will retire – marking the end of his 50th year with the NHS.

Colleague Gary Matfin, a community psychiatric nurse who has worked with Eric for 12 years, said: “He has been an excellent role model. He epitomises the attitude and care that the NHS strives for; he is has a strong sense of duty, is hard working and selfless and has been the embodiment of phrases such as “commitment, care and compassion.”

“I believe he has made a positive difference to the lives of many patients and his leaving will mark the end of an era locally – though his influence will endure through the numerous staff who have benefited from his example. As a team, we will be poorer for the loss of his kindness, humour and wisdom.”

He moved to York from the North East where his only employment option was working in the mines. He went on to train as a psychiatric nurse, later moving from Clifton Hospital to train as a general nurse in York.

In 1970, he returned to mental health nursing, going back to Clifton Hospital and worked in managerial roles in Naburn and Bootham hospitals before returning to Clifton, where he said he was pleased to have become very involved in social rehabilitation – opening a social club and organising patients’ holidays.

He then went into community psychiatric nursing in 1992. Taking up semi-retirement ten years ago, Eric worked part time and without management responsibilities.

He said: “I have grown up with mental health all my life and the people I work with have grown up with me. I have enjoyed the best years of mental health ever. I have been very, very lucky. I have just done my job to the best of my ability.”

The grandfather-of-three now hopes to play more golf, continue as secretary of Huntington Rovers and spend time with his family.