FLORENCE Nightingale was the star of the show as health visitors were taken 150 years back in time to celebrate the anniversary of Bolton’s visiting service.

There was a time machine on hand as Margaret Osborne, senior nurse manager for health visiting, took on the role of Time Lord to celebrate the service’s milestone anniversary.

Health visitors put on fancy dress to represent different eras from the service’s history.

There were flappers from the 1920s, Spice Girls from the 1990s, bright polka dots and flares from the 1960s, florescent tutus and leg warmers from the 1980s and a London Olympics torchbearer outfit to represent 2012.

Staff also took along props, including carbolic soap, a porcelain bed pan and a wooden crib from the service’s first year, 1862.

Former health visitors came along to watch as staff put on a special production in the main campus at The University of Bolton.

Ms Osborne started the show which, she said, was in keeping with pantomime season, by introducing Florence Nightingale, also known as Janet Swindells, a health visitor team leader.

Florence Nightingale, the famous lady with the lamp, was behind the first ever visiting service for parents and babies, which was designed to improve infant mortality rates and conditions in slums and has developed into the service we know today.

Staff representing each era then performed a short sketch to demonstrate how times have changed.

The service still helps parents and young children, but has extended its services to include advice on parenting, information on services and groups, health advice and immunisation, benefits information and help with post-natal depression, as well as other services for parents with children aged under five.

Ms Swindells said staff had been very resourceful with their costumes and props and said they were proud to commemorate the service.

She added: “We are trying to raise the profile of health visiting, which is why we have held this event at the university and brought together other service providers, such as social services.

“We want to commemorate 150 years of the service.”

Julianne Harlow, programme lead for health visiting at the university, said: “It is important to commemorate 150 years and holding the event here is important because it shows the partnership working between the university and NHS Bolton.”