SHE has taken thousands of calls from patients over two decades.

And now, doctors’ surgery receptionist Gilly Cox is preparing to retire after more than 19 years working at the health centre based at Barton’s neighbourhood centre.

The 64-year-old is looking forward to taking life easy after a busy career that has seen her taking calls from a woman in labour and someone having a heart attack.

She said: “You never know from day-to-day what you are going to get on the phone.

“It could be anything from somebody with a heart attack to a patient with an upset stomach. It is just what happens, it is everyday life.

“Every day is a challenge but you are trained for all eventualities.”

But Miss Cox says the two decades at the surgery have not felt like work to her.

She said: “I have loved going to work, it has never been a chore, it has always been fantastic. I have met some wonderful people. I feel like I am part of the community.

“I just cannot believe the time has gone so quickly.”

The grandmother-of-five said she had seen young patients grow up and have children themselves.

But the Kidlington resident said the estate would always be a special place for her.

She said: “It’s the Barton people. Their hearts are bigger than they are. They took me into their community and made me part of it.

“I have been invited to so many weddings, christenings and birthday parties.”

The mum-of-three, of Green Road, said she plans to do lots of gardening and get an Alsatian dog to walk in her retirement which starts tomorrow.

The Barton surgery is a satellite office of the Bury Knowle Health Centre in Headington and it is open five days a week.

Stuart MacFarlane, business manager at the London Road health centre, paid tribute to Miss Cox’s work.

He said: “She has served the NHS incredibly well for a very long time so the community will miss her and so will her colleagues.”

He also said Miss Cox was the only receptionist at the surgery, adding: “She is it. She runs the show.”

Sue Holden, Barton Community Association secretary, also said Miss Cox would be missed on the estate.

She said: “She sees the community of Barton as her extended family.

“She is very well respected and well-liked by one and all and has offered an impeccable service.

“She has been a fantastic ambassador of the Bury Knowle Health Centre.”

The surgery invited residents to say goodbye to the receptionist with a party yesterday at the Barton Neighbourhood Centre in Underhill Circus.

Miss Cox, who was an auxiliary nurse at the Radcliffe Infirmary before coming to Barton, is to be replaced by Sarah Flexen.