Ethel Armstrong, 87, has been given the gong in the Queen's New Year honours for her long-standing service to the NHS and retirees
The retired Durham health worker was serving as a cadet nurse on the day the NHS was established in July 1948 and went on to have a distinguished career.
She worked in various parts of the country, mainly in radiography and radiotherapy, and retired as tutor/adviser to the Breast Screening Service in Liverpool in 1989.
Ethel joined the Durham branch of the NHS Retirement Fellowship almost immediately after her retirement and quickly became an integral part of the branch.
Troubled woman caused £30,000 damage by setting fire to her Gentoo home in Sunderland
Pair fined after reports of excess noise and fighting in the street
Bereaved mum hopes inquest will answer questions over daughter’s death
'There is going to be a fatality' - fears rise over impact of nuisance riders in Sunderland
Watch as Sunderland's Hylton Road hit by flooding after summer downpour - and here's when more showers are set to arrive in Wearside
She served as welfare officer in 1992 and she became chairman of the Durham branch in 1994, a position she still holds.
In 2005, she was elected as the Regional representative for the North East and became part of the National Council. She was elected vice-chairman in 2009, chairman in 2011 and president in 2013.
Uniquely, having been actively involved for so long and such a driving force within the Fellowship, the Trustees asked her to become the first Retirement Fellowship member to become a Life Patron of the organisation from 2015.
John Rostill, Chief Executive of the NHS Retirement Fellowship said: “This remarkable lady has worked tirelessly for the benefit of our 10,000 members and has travelled thousands of miles by train each year to enthuse members with her passion, enthusiasm and commitment.
"This 87 year old is unique, set an example that will be difficult to replicate, and I can't think of anyone more suitable to be honoured, at the beginning of the NHS Retirement Fellowship's 40th year.”