Margate therapy assistant retires after helping thousands of people during 30-year career

Maxine celebrated her final day at a lunch party with colleagues Photo Caroline Palmer

By Liz Baker

A therapy assistant from Margate who has helped thousands of people get back on their feet is hanging up her uniform for the last time after more than 30 years.

Maxine Chapman started working in the NHS in 1992, at the Royal Seabathing Hospital in Margate.

She moved to the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate when it opened, and has spent her career working alongside physiotherapists and occupational therapists to help people recover after surgery.

The grandmother of six said: “I have loved my role and I couldn’t have been happier.

“I originally worked in the Co-op at Westwood in the cash office, but I’m a people person and I wanted a job where I could help people.

“When I applied for the position of occupational therapist helper, I wasn’t sure exactly what it was but I’ve absolutely loved it and it’s been a real privilege to be able to help so many people over the years.”

Maxine has worked in wards across the hospital, mostly with trauma and orthopaedic patients, and completed an NVQ level 3 in Diagnostic and therapeutic support.

As an assistant therapy practitioner, she helps patients with their mobility after surgery, and makes sure they are safe to go home.

Most recently she has worked in the day surgery unit and in the Spencer Wing, where she has her own caseload each day.

She said: “I see people after they have been assessed by our physiotherapists and occupational therapists, and can discharge people if they are safe to go home.

“We have a lot of responsibility, which I love, and I must have seen thousands of people over the years.

“There are a few who do stay with me, including one gentleman I worked with after he had a stroke. I saw him every day and he made some great improvements and was able to go home, although he sadly died a short time later.

“I went to his funeral and was mentioned by name in the eulogy and it was so wonderful to know I had been able to make a difference and support him and his family.”

Final day with colleagues Photo Caroline Palmer

Maxine has seen many changes over the years, including people being able to go home much faster now after their operations. Following hip and knee replacements, patients would often stay for up to a week, but now they can go home within two or three days.

And she has also met royalty; not once but twice!

She said: “I met the Queen and Prince Philip at the Royal Seabathing Hospital. I was holding a gadget that helped people put their tights on, and Prince Philip asked what it was and how it worked.

“Then King Charles opened the QEQM, when he was Prince of Wales. He planted a tree and he knew the name of it without being told.

“We were lined up in the garden and I was the only one in blue, because I was standing next to the physiotherapists and occupational therapists in their white uniforms, and he wanted to know the difference.

“I’m a real royalist so that was a huge honour.”

Photo Caroline Palmer

Maxine marked her final day yesterday (October 25) at a celebration party with colleagues.

Maxine is now planning to spend more time with her six grandchildren, who are aged between 20 and nine months, and plans to travel with her husband in their campervan.


  1. Hey Maxine, have a fantastic, long and happy retirement. Smashing article, well done, you deserve it…

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