THERE were tears when a much loved surgeon retired from the Countess of Chester Hospital after 28 years.

George Foster, a consultant colo-rectal surgeon, was treated to a presentation and buffet where colleagues said an emotional farewell.

Accompanied by wife Linda, a GP at Tattenhall, George was also asked to blow out the candles on a cake in celebration of his 66th birthday.

George, who has worked for the NHS for 43 years, has helped save hundreds of lives over the years.

The surgeon, a father of three with four grandchildren, who lives in Utkinton, told The Chronicle: “I will miss the job first of all. I'm one of these lucky people who enjoy the job they do.

“Every patient is different and that's what I like about it. I have been so lucky and so privileged to work here. I will miss the staff who are all my friends.”

George, who will continue with some private work at the Grosvenor Nuffield Hospital in Chester, admits he does not always practise what he preaches in terms of healthy living.

“The last time I was in a gym, at vast amounts of money, I went to it once in a year and had two pints of lager and turned round again and went home and decided I'd better buy a push bike.”

George, who has represented doctors' interests through various organisations, is proud the Countess was recently found to be the second best hospital in England when it comes to survival rates following bowel cancer surgery.

Medical director Dr Virginia Clough said George had played his part in achieving such ‘fantastic' outcomes.

She added: “The most important thing is that he's a friend and colleague to just about everybody. We love him.”

Former Chronicle editor-in-chief Eric Langton survived bowel cancer thanks in part to George's skilful surgery.

He said: “I thought I had been given a death sentence with my diagnosis but Mr Foster gave me confidence the moment I met him. His vast experience and careful optimism was just what I needed at such a difficult time.

“He is a great character clearly adored by the medical support team and there are thousands of grateful patients wishing him well.”