Nurses reunion evokes hospital memories

Meeting up again, Joanne Walker, Pat Eade, Jean Whittle, Carole Whybrow, May Lin Gosling and Sue Durack

Meeting up again, Joanne Walker, Pat Eade, Jean Whittle, Carole Whybrow, May Lin Gosling and Sue Durack

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Six nurses from the September set of student nurses of 1966 came together for a reunion at the Chichester Park Hotel.

Memories of experiences were recalled of their three-year training to become State Registered Nurses while enjoying a celebration cake, glass of bubbly and hot tub, followed by a lovely evening meal.

The following day, there was a trip down memory lane for Joanne Walker, Pat Eade, Jean Whittle, Carole Whybrow, May Lin Gosling and Sue Durack, to see the old main hospital on the St Richard’s site, now Stillman House.

Pat said: “The chapel door from the Royal West Sussex Hospital set against the wall in the corridor of St Richard’s Hospital evoked many memories.

“Behind the long wall in Spitalfield Lane, now Bishops Gate, was Nightingale House, the nurses home for the Preliminary Training School (PTS) students.

“We wore noticeable daffodil yellow uniforms while in PTS. The School of Nursing and Isolation Hospital were also on this site.

“Onwards over to Broyle Road and Forbes Place, formerly the Royal West Sussex Hospital. We were greeted by three residents, Mo, Barbara and Joan, who made us very welcome.”

In the entrance hall, there are several pictures of the old hospital and the former nurses were able to climb the lovely winding staircase and walked the corridors again.

Two women allowed the group access to their apartments and they were interested to hear stories of the history of the building and layout as wards.

Pat recalled interviews with Matron Rice, wearing her lace cap with bow under her chin in her imposing office.

The rooms for first-year student nurses were on the top floor of the hospital. The doors were locked at 10pm.

“We were allowed a late night pass until 11pm once a week. We were in trouble with night sister if we were caught creeping in after this time,” said Pat.

The blocks of education at the school of nursing meant the friends could all get together, as half the cohort was assigned to work clinically at the Royal West Sussex Hospital and the other half at St Richard’s Hospital, with a change over at mid course.

Three months of each year were spent on night duty, when they nurses lived in a lovely old red brick building further up Broyle Road, called Herondean. Transport was provided by a blue Bedford van.

Pat said: “We worked a 42-hour week and had several split shifts, having a break from 2pm to 5pm in a 7.30am to 8.30pm shift. Pay was £24 a month, of which £13 was deducted for board and lodging.

“We all have many happy and sad memories, the patients, the team of tutors, clinical tutors and consultants who ensured that we met our range of experience and standards, with practice assessments and educational knowledge.

“The staff that scared or inspired us for our future careers in nursing. May Lin and Pat are still nursing today for the NHS.”

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