It is never too late to start something new, and although she has just retired, Patricia Collop is living proof of it.
From working at a paediatrician’s office and doctors’ surgeries, Collop decided there was more to life than just working and being shuffled around.
The Mitchell’s Plain resident had originally completed a junior certificate (JC) and joined the workforce, before settling down and starting a family.
As times changed, she soon realised her qualification would not be enough and enrolled to complete her national senior certificate. “I changed to working half day and went back to finish my matric certificate. I actually finished with my son,” she says. “At the time, my children were studying and I thought about where I would end up. My JC did not help and I thought, ‘I must do something’.”
She says God placed her on the right path and that was joining the police service some 20 years ago. “I said, ‘Lord, I am 40, what boss is going to take me on at 40?’ ”
When positions became available in the police service for administrative clerks, Collop jumped at the opportunity.
In 2015, her husband had open-heart surgery and this was followed by a deep depression two years ago, making her the sole breadwinner.
“I would not have survived on that jobs that I did,” she says.
Collop started at the Mitchell’s Plain police station, which she named the “best station to work at”.
Here, she says, she learnt most of her current duties from patient detectives. The officers and support offered there being a highlight of her journey.
From there, Collop worked at Nyanga, Claremont and Philippi East police stations before working at Lansdowne police station – the second-best station, according to her. Collop officially retired from this station on Wednesday 31 March.
“I am a very hardworking and dedicated person and the police blessed me with doing the thing I love most,” says Collop.
Working for the police has also allowed for her children to finish their degrees and enabled her to care for her family.
Having worked as an administrator for the police, she says this is an occupation that is often overlooked but that is very important for any station.
“Admin is the core of the station. Everything that happens must be recorded and we record it as evidence of what has happened. Admin is vital. Next to policing, it is important,” she says.
Now she looks forward to continuing serving her community and spending more time with her grandchildren. She has applied to become a commissioner of oaths and will continue to care for her sick husband.
“I have so much energy. I am 64-years-old and this is new to me. I want to channel my energy and help my community,” she says.
To anyone wanting to go back to school, Collop says it is never too late.
“Even if you start your family, it is never too late to upgrade yourself. Never stop learning. It requires sacrifices but you will gain the rewards. We are behind. It is just the young girls having babies and not thinking about the future; those babies will be with you for your lifetime,” she says.