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NHS staff who work in same office discover they are long lost relatives

The pair only realised when they shared life stories as part of NHS 70th anniversary celebrations.

Two NHS staff who work in the same office discovered they were long lost cousins when celebrating the 70th anniversary of the health service.

Doctor Anita Green, associate director of nurse education, and Joanna Norcross, an assistant contract manager, are third cousins and both work for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust at its Worthing headquarters.

But neither realised until they shared their life stories discussing why they chose a career in the NHS as part of activities planned by the mental health trust to mark the milestone anniversary.

After reading each other’s tale, they realised they were both related to pioneering nurse Dame Alice Mary Williamson – Anita’s great aunt and Joanna’s grandmother’s cousin.

Dame Alice was born in 1903 and rose through the ranks as a nurse to become air commandant and matron-in-chief in the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service.

After retiring from her role in 1959 she became chief nursing officer in Kuwait until 1962.

Third generation nurse Dr Green, 59, of Hayling Island, Hampshire, said: “It’s such an amazing co-incidence.

“Dame Alice, or Auntie Mary to the family, was an amazing woman, perfectly generous and gracious. I have been lucky enough to inherit her medals so have a wonderful reminder of what women can achieve.  She is still an inspiration to me.”

Mrs Norcross, 55, of Worthing, West Sussex, said: “I’m so stunned by the smallness of the world.

“What was the likelihood of both of us washing up at the same place, given that neither of us has any obvious connection with Sussex.

“My aunt – Anita’s mother’s second cousin – was very excited to hear that I’d ‘found’ a relative as she is busy building a family tree and remembers Dame Alice quite vividly.

“Clearly time to start planning a family reunion and all thanks to the NHS.”

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