TWO long-serving NHS employees are heading into their retirement after having served the patients and visitors at Hinchingbrooke Hospital for more than 55 years. Pauline Stowers was a matron in the Huntingdon Treatment Centre, while Jonathan Houghton was head gardener at the hospital. Mrs Stowers started work at the County Hospital in Huntingdon in 1978, moving to Hinchingbrooke when it opened five years later. She spearheaded the hospital's move to day surgery, first as sister of Poplar ward and subsequently as matron of the procedure unit in Huntingdon Treatment Centre. The hospital now carries out more than 80 per cent of all surgical procedures as day cases, most of them in the treatment centre. Mrs Stowers was also involved in developing new ways to improve patient care, around which the building was designed, and even laid the first brick when building work began. Mr Houghton also started his career at the County Hospital where he began work as a gardener in 1979, moving to Hinchingbrooke to care for its grounds in 1983. Trust chairman, Sue Smith, said: "Our new treatment centre owes much to Pauline's hard work, commitment and high standards. "She has played a pivotal role in developing day surgery here and its success is a tribute to her dedication and professionalism. "You only have to look at the hospital grounds to see the results of Jonathan's handiwork, which is greatly appreciated by patients, visitors and staff alike." She added: "Both Pauline and Jonathan have made this hospital their lives and it is impossible to overstate how much they have contributed over the years. "While we are always sorry to lose good people, these two have more than earned their retirement and we hope it will be a long and happy one.