She has been the reassuring face in the reception of St Keverne Health Centre for more than two decades, but now Kathryn Carey has signed herself off work for good.

Kathryn officially retired at the start of January, three days before her 60th birthday.

Her departure has been the cause of sorrow for a huge number of patients who have been greeted by her smiling face over the last 22 years.

Kathryn said: “Thank you to everyone for all my well wishes. I can’t walk through the village without someone saying ‘You’re retiring! We’ll miss you’, which is nice.

“Thank you to all the patients for being patient with me.”

She was already a familiar face to many when she first joined the surgery as receptionist and dispenser, having worked at Barclays in Helston for 13 years and then Londis in St Keverne, her home village.

At that time Dr Peter Harris and Dr Penny Barton were the doctors in charge, with Teresa Poultney practice nurse – another familiar face over many years, who has since retired.

Kathryn said she had seen many changes during her time at the surgery – but the biggest of all was the amount of medication that is now prescribed to patients.

“Preventative medication is a big thing now. When I joined people could phone and order their medication, and I would maybe fill out a piece of A4 paper. When I left it was thousands!

“It’s more or less that same amount of patients though – always just under the 3,000 mark,” she said.

While working for the health centre Kathryn was not allowed to be registered as a patient, so had to travel to Helston, but since retiring she has been allowed to join the practice from the other side.

“Now I am back and they can look after me! Hopefully I won’t need them though,” she joked.

Kathryn marked her retirement with a weekend away in Ireland and is now looking forward to spending her days cycling, walking her dog and looking after her family, with caring for grandsons Jago and Jory already a firm fixture in her weekly calendar.

She is also due to join colleagues for a delayed retirement party this Saturday, due to January being such a busy month.

Kathryn was in fact planning to retire last November, but was asked to stay on one day a week, to help with the busy Christmas and New Year period.

Her last day did not go entirely unmarked however, with colleagues popping the Prosecco at the end of the shift.

Kathryn said she will miss all who she worked with, adding that at the moment it only felt like she was on holiday.