Upkar Drubra’s parents initially discouraged nursing as a career but the plucky teenager decided to apply anyway.
Parental disapproval can be tough but when your father is a Sergeant Major in the Indian Army it calls for some inner steel.
“They came around to the idea,” says Upkar who qualified in 1963 and came to the UK in the 1970s working in succession of jobs before resuming her nursing career when her two children were older.
“The NHS is my second family and I’ve enjoyed working with colleagues and patients so much over the years.”
The 78-year-old diabetes specialist nurse has been working part-time for several years but is finally retiring after a career of extraordinary longevity which has included working as a ward sister, district nurse, school nurse, researcher and diabetes nurse.
A chance encounter with a doctor in the canteen at Northwick Park more than 30 year ago first set her on the path to being a diabetes nurse.
“The advance in care during that time has been extraordinary with patients who would previously been hospitialised now managing their condition at home.”
Upkar, who speaks four languages, has proved invaluable in engaging with the area’s large Asian community.
She says she has also done her best to challenge the myth that ‘Indian ladies sit quietly at home’ by turning her hand to various challenges including abseiling, kayaking and Indian classical dance and says there is plenty to keep her busy in retirement.
“I am still active and like to try new things. I’d encourage everyone to experience as much as they can during their lives.”
Upkar's first priority is visiting her son in Bangkok who she hasn’t seen for more than a year because of flight restrictions but she would still like to help out at Northwick Park as a volunteer.
“I’ve had an enjoyable career and it would be nice to continue to help in some way. I’m going to have a break but hopefully I will see everyone again soon!”