Monday, 28 June 2010

Michelle Jones (neé Jackson) remembers Thorp Arch girls' ward in 1971

My name is Michelle Jones. At the age of 10 in 1971 (Easter Saturday to be exact) I broke my femur. After 2 weeks in St James's Leeds I was shipped out to MHH and stayed there for the next 5 months. 4 of those months I was on traction and therefore confined to a wooden cot like bed.
I can remember the girls' ward at that time seemed to be directly next to the operating theatres. There were only around 5 or 6 of us in the ward at the time. 3 of my companions seemed to be there long term. One was a girl of about 18 who in retrospect had some sort of brain tumour. Another was a nice girl called Laraine Henshaw (I think) who had some neurological wasting disease which affected her speech as well as her mobility and then there was Karen Henry, a mixed race girl who must have had congenital dislocating hips and was on bed rest. I remember being wheeled out on to the veranda as it was summer time and we had 2 nice ladies who came to give us lessons. We had a record player and TV and lots of comics and books so even though I was desperate to go home there was lots to occupy me. I can remember the summer fayre that was held there every year and Karen was chosen to the the "queen" and got to wear a tiara and cloak. Once I was off traction I had to undergo painful and scary physio from a very strict lady whose name I can't remember but I went twice a day and she used to shout at me when I couldn't walk to her satisfaction. I enjoyed going in the hydro pool though.
The highlight was the weekends when mum and dad were allowed to visit and they'd bring a my sister and school friends to come and see me. We had permanent staff there but student nurses from Seacroft hospital used to come for around a month at a time. I can remember getting very attached to one young nurse but I can't remember her name. There was a particular staff nurse who seemed to work every night who was very strict with us all.
I once went back to the grounds after the hospital closed and all the buildings were still there but obviously deserted. It was very weird. My stay there seemed to go on forever and it had a huge impact on my life as I was growing up. I don't know why I suddenly decided to google MHH but have found the pieces people have written and photos fascinating and wish there were more people who were around in the early 70's when I was there. I was called Jackson then and my Dad, Charlie, used to go round to the boys ward and talk to all the kids there and make them laugh.
I have now been a physio myself for the past 25 years and sort of understand now why the physio then was so hard on me!
If anyone wishes to contact me I can be found at
28 June 2010 16:56