A familiar face of a Suffolk GP surgery has had a festive send-off after nearly four decades in the NHS.

Jan Kelly has been a nurse practitioner with the Mendlesham Medical Group at its centre in Chapel Road since 2004.

Holding her final clinics on Christmas Eve, the team held a presentation to bid a fond farewell to their friend and colleague who was the first nurse practitioner to join the surgery.

The mother-of-three said: "I was the first one and they took a gamble on me."

Graduating as a nurse in 1979, she first worked in theatres before 20 years of service at the Grove Surgery in Thetford.

"When I started I had a red pen, a green pen, a blue pen and a notepad in my pocket. You had to have that, you never went near a laptop. It's very different now," she said.

After becoming one of the first to complete a nursing practitioner degree at the University of Suffolk, she joined the practice under the mentorship of Dr Paul Head and has seen the role becoming a part of primary care life.

The latest challenge she and her colleagues have faced is the pandemic which has meant at times they could not see all patients face to face.

But she continued to be passionate about her role, and added: "I know it sounds corny but it is the patient contact. The beauty of primary care is you get consistency and you build up relationships."

Mrs Kelly says her retirement plans are to keep physically active, spend time at her mobile home and more time with her parents, children and four grandchildren - the youngest of which she has not met.

She added: "I have always thought if it is important you invest in a pension then you should invest in your health."

The nurse practitioner received many messages, cards and gifts including a fruit tree for her garden, furniture for her mobile home, a bottle of champagne and flowers.

Dr Julia Ford said: "She will be so missed.

"It will be a big space that will be left, we will still be in touch. She is a friend to us all."