A former Olympic sprinter once described as the "fastest woman in Africa" is retiring after almost five decades as an NHS nurse.

Matron Rose Amankwaah, who is known as Matron Rose at work, has spent her whole nursing career at Central Middlesex Hospital in Park Royal.

The theatre matron started working in the NHS in 1975 – just three years after she ran in the 100m relay for Ghana at the Munich 1972 Olympics.

Now she is preparing for a slower pace as she retires at the end of March after 49 years as an NHS nurse.

This Is Local London: Matron Rose once met Tony BlairMatron Rose once met Tony Blair (Image: PA/PA Wire)

In her twenties, Ms Amankwaah juggled athletics training with her nursing career, running alongside a young Linford Christie.

The NHS nurse's sporting career saw her compete in major competitions, including the Africa Games, Commonwealth Games, and the Olympics.

She moved to England when she was 22 and began her nursing training shortly after that.

After her training was completed, Ms Amankwaah was employed by Central Middlesex Hospital, where she climbed the ranks from staff nurse to theatre matron.

During her time as a nurse, the mother-of-four has rubbed shoulders with both royalty and senior politicians.

She recalls shaking hands with King Charles, then Prince of Wales, and former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

This Is Local London: She has also rubbed shoulders with royaltyShe has also rubbed shoulders with royalty (Image: London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust /PA Wire)

Ms Amankwaah said: "I’m happy that I’m going to have some time with my family but I have been in this hospital all my life, so retirement feels like losing something – you’re part of the furniture and all of a sudden you are not going to be.

"But I’m so happy that I have achieved what I want to achieve."

Post-retirement, she plans to visit her 87-year-old sister in Ghana.

She also looks forward to watching the Paris Olympics next summer.

Ms Amankwaah is considering staying on the nursing register to provide supplementary cover when called upon.

A London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust spokesperson said: "The NHS is all about people and we’ll all miss Rose when she goes.

"She is a great nurse and personality and, after 49 years, still knows how to set the pace and run the race."