TRIBUTES have poured in for a ‘hugely respected’ hospital porter and charity fundraiser.
Family and colleagues of 74-year-old hospital worker Thomas Burnside said the former soldier was ‘part of the fabric of the Princess Anne Hospital’.
He worked for the NHS for 26 years, with the majority of those years spent at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.
Prior to the NHS the grandfather had a distinguished career in the army.
Fiona Lawson, care group manager for women and newborns at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Tom was part of the fabric of the Princess Anne Hospital where he worked as a member of our portering team for over 20 years.
“He would stand, on guard, when he wasn’t on a job, and meet and greet all who attended the hospital, always willing to help, guide and direct lost people.
“He’d be there when shifts started, wishing staff a good morning and there in the evening with a cheery ‘night!” as you left.
“Tom had strong values and principles and was a true gentleman. He was discreet, polite and respectful with families, always managing to get the level of humour or chat just right for each situation.”
Tom’s wife Pam died due to illness but he found love again with his partner Gill.
Gill’s son Richard Cole told the Daily Echo his family viewed Thomas as their father and grandfather-in-law.
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He said: “Thomas was a kind, loving and extremely caring man.
“We considered him our father-in-law, and grandfather/grandpa to our daughter and grandson.
“He was always a favorite with the grandsons.
“Tom worked for the NHS for 26 years and was a well-liked and hugely respected member of a large team and would always go above and beyond to help the patients he cared for.
“Tom’s loss has been devastating and he will be so missed by us all and he will always be in our thoughts.”
Porter supervisor at UHS Marc Callway worked with Tom, both as porters, for 21 years before becoming supervisors.
He said: “We will miss you Tom and still can’t quite believe you have gone. Your saying of ‘it’s nice to be nice’ will never leave me.”
For Kieran Kenny, head porter at University Hospital Southampton, Thomas will “always be more than just a work colleague.”
He said: “I see him as a great friend, one of the best.
“Tom is Princess Anne through and through, to me, he is the example of how it should be done.”
Tom was renowned for meeting and greeting all those who attended the hospital and was always willing to help and guide people. He died on May 24.
Kevin Wright, deputy portering manager, added: “Tom’s friends and colleagues all had the upmost respect for him; he was a kind-natured person who was always willing to go above and beyond to help others.
“He will be remembered as a consummate professional and an excellent porter supervisor, who always had an ear for anyone and put the interests of patients first.
“Tom will be sorely missed by his colleagues, friends and family who are all deeply saddened by his sudden loss.”
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