Friday, 28 October 2011

Ann Shaw (co-author of "Children of Craig y Nos"

Thank you Dorothy for sharing this very brave account of your life.

It reflects so many stories that happened in Craig-y-nos too.
Ann Shaw
(co-author "Children of Craig-y-nos"

27 October 2011 21:42

Friday, 2 September 2011

Do you have a connecton with MHH? Do you have a story to tell?

I was a spinal TB patient for about 5 years (1943 to 1948), first in Wales, where my Dad was posted in the RAF (at Crossways hospital, near Cardiff), and then at the Marguerite Hepton Orthopaedic Hospital at Thorpe Arch, near Wetherby, Yorkshire. Eventually, developments in surgical techniques and antibiotics helped me recover fully.
I'm now 68, and I feel there's a story to be explored here about the hospital itself, the experience of TB patients at that time, and its effects on patients' later lives. It should be told by many voices - of patients, nurses, teachers, doctors and others who looked after us, and may be those of their children and grandchildren.
The hospital closed in 1985, became an old people's home and has now vanished under a housing development. Thanks to the Craig-y-Nos blog, about a similar hospital in Wales, and with good help from Dr Carole Reeves at the Wellcome Foundation Trust, this blog is gradually taking shape as people contact us to share their experience (See the link to the Craig-y-Nos blog on the left of the texts). We hope anyone connected with the hospital in the past will read the blog and add stories and comments, so that we can make a personal oral history.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Dorothy Davies Autobiography

I was admitted to St James’ Hospital, Leeds at the age of 9 with osteomyelitis in my left femur.  My life changed forever, little did I know at the time just how life changing this was going to be.  I felt very alone there as my bed was pushed out into a corridor every day.  As I was very pale, they thought it would do me good to see and feel the sun and fresh air coming through the windows. 

After a month I was transferred to Marguerite Hepton Hospital – Thorp Arch.  I was in plaster from the chest down.  I enjoyed the schooling there.  The teacher was called Miss Field.  It must have been quite difficult for Miss Field as we were all different ages ( 5 – 16 years).  She had to teach different programs for different children.

My memories of food aren’t  too good, I hated the rice pudding and lumpy potatoes.  If you didn’t eat it a nurse would bring it back for your next meal, and made you eat it.  Once, the girl in the next bed to me was sick in her rice pudding and she was made to eat it.  You can imagine the outcome; I can’t face rice pudding to this day. 

However, most of the nurses were kind.  I did see the odd acts of cruelty to some children.  Although I felt helpless and very, very angry, oh so angry, I was angry with myself for not being able to do anything, but personally I didn’t suffer any of this.  Now I feel very strongly about abuse of any kind. 

It did have huge impact on my life being separated from loved ones.  Visiting was on a Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon, 2pm – 3pm.  Of course there were no phones there and we all loved getting letter from our loved ones.  Sadly some children didn’t get any visitors.

We did have a TV (donated by a girl’s dad) but I couldn’t see it, as it was too far away.  

We used to get pushed outside daily. I remembered playing with a coloured ball.  I really loved meal time outside as the birds were so tame they used to sit on your knife and fork!

Bonfire night too was brilliant, as it was the only time I saw one of my sisters.  She was too young to visit as she was 11, and you had to be 12. That night Dad was allowed to wheel me to the gate to see here for a few minutes used to see my other sister June as she was old enough to visit with Mum and Dad 

We were not allowed to keep any sweets that our visitors gave us.  They were handed in and shared which was a really good thing.  Some things I don’t remember at all such as other patient’s names etc perhaps because I was flat on my back so my horizon was very limited. I do remember one girl who was in the bed at the end of the ward opposite to me, her name was Margret and I thought she was really old(16),she had TB of the spine and she was really brave and kind. She had dark thick hair and a warm smile; I never knew her second name
 I remember once I had visitors out of hours,, an elderly couple who knew my Mum and Dad.  They came from quite a distance and they were allowed to see me for 10 minutes.  They gave me a box of chocolate butterflies which I hid and ate later.  I did not enjoy them and felt ill and very guilty afterwards.  I learnt a valuable lesson that day. 

After 7 months I learnt I was to learn to walk again and go home.  They took my plaster off.  There was a thermometer, egg shells, dead wasp (to this day I am terrified of wasps) and lots more rubbish.  There was a lump of hard skin the same shape as my foot that came away.  For some reason beyond my comprehension one of the nurses thought this was fascinating.  I still feel a debt of gratitude to the very kind nurses.

I then went to Potternewton Mansion School quite near where I lived.  It was a special school for handicapped children for the whole of Leeds.  Some had learning difficulties, some behavioural problems, so it was not really conducive for efficient learning. 

I was in a Miss Grahams Class who was sort of a bit miserable, she was a middle aged spinster, but she was quite an efficient teacher. 

For nature studies we had Miss Clark, I used to love her classes. 

There were two male teachers Mr Tempest and Mr Perry who very occasionally would take us in a English and Poetry Class.  Then a Mr Attack took over our class, he was a bit airy-fairy, but a lovely person.  The headmaster was a Mr Paden whose main hobby was stamp collecting.  I don’t know where he got them from but he seemed to get boxes and boxes of stamps. 

When I first started there I was a bit shocked at the wide range of disabilities.  Quite often people died at this school.  Some children had muscular dystrophy; others had a hole in the heart. These children would have blue lips. They often went into hospital and you would never se them again. 

I remember one boy, Phillip Stead 11 years old who I got very close to.  Sadly he had M.D. and just before he died he was take for a day out into the country.  He brought me back 2 yellow snails; I called 1 marigold and 1 buttercup.  I never saw him again.

We had a physiotherapy department.  The physiotherapist was Mr Lewis who was also the physio for the Leeds Rugby team and sometimes for the England Cricket team, when they played at Headingly. He was a large man, who gave the impression that he was very hard, both physically and emotionally. 

Swimming was quite a big feature of this school. Once a year we competed in a swimming gala with other local schools. We were given so many yards start.  I was never a brilliant swimmer but always enjoyed classes.  Except my first one as I couldn’t swim and I didn’t know if I was more scared of the water or more scared of Mr Lewis. I decided I was more scared of Mr Lewis, so got in the pool and learnt to swim
My close friend at the school was Jennifer Kemp, sadly we lost touch when she moved away.. I think she went on to be a lawyer

The actual school was an old mansion house located on the edge of a park.  We had quite a large landscaped area of grass and trees.  There were may different types of trees, a rare one being a tulip tree, and an evergreen oak. 

Just before I left to go to a normal school we had another new teacher Mr Hyatt a Jewish Vegetarian.  He was very laid back.  He influenced quite a few of us to become vegetarian.  He also did a lot of charity work for the RSPCA and encouraged us to become members. 

After a couple of years I was given a chance to go to a normal school.  It came as a big shock to me that some people just wanted to mess around and some had been over indulged by parents.  There were some idiots and worse bullies and being different I was a target for them.  I found this difficult to get used to.  They used to push me around and liked finding ways to cause me problems.  It made me realise how privileged I had been to know such wonderful, brave children from my last school.  Children who helped each other and supported each other and who  looked out for their team mates. 

I wasn’t allowed to do P.E. or swimming at the so-called ‘normal’ school. 

I must admit that I am a little nervous even to this day of falling, and lack confidence physically.

However, after leaving school I got a job in a sweet shop locally, which I loved.  The years went on and I got married and had 3 children.  Now I have several grand children and 2 great grand children. 

I have had a total hip replacement, which is probably one of the best parts of my body (no arthritis in it). I lead a normal life and I feel that I am a better, more patient person.  Having osteomyelitis has made me stronger and given me so many privileges in life.  I have been blessed to have me such wonderful people who have taught me so many of life’s values.  

Friday, 22 April 2011

Jane posting anonymous comment from someone seeking Joseph Dooker, a former patient born 1904

We don't normally like posting anonymous comments, but this might be of interest to some:
"Looking for information on a Joseph Dooker born 1904 Leeds, Yorkshire and was a patient at Thorp Arch Wetherby. On the 1911 census Helen Backhouse (37) was the Head, Matron of Convalescent Home and Florence Smith (26) Servant, General Domestic Servant."

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Jane to Philip Sunderland

It would be great if you could share more of your memories from that time, Phil

Philip Sutherland - a patient from 1960-1963 responds to Vera Duxbury's posting on 5 February

I was in Marguerite Hepton Hospital from 1960 to 1963.
I remember Mr.Clarke the consultant,Some of the patients were Steven Rouse, Peter Hooton, Tony Wrench we had a nurse Carrick, Nurse Bedford, Sister Wheelan who was very fond of Frank Ifield. I met Billy Fury, Marty Wilde, and Eden Kane at the hospital, and the nurses were ready to faint at these pop stars.
I saw The Wizard of Oz on 16mm film at the hospital and Summer Holiday with Cliff Richard. I am always grateful to the doctors and nurses who cared for me and I have lots of fond memories.
Philip Sunderland

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Jane responds to Robin Watson

Robin, I have posted your comment so that everyone can see it. I was a contemporary of yours (1944-8), though being a girl probably never even set eyes on you! I do agree with you about the debt of gratitude we owe to the nurses and doctors of that time. For ages when I was growing up, I wanted to be a nurse, but eventually went off in a different direction.
If you have any more memories to add,do get in touch, either with comments, or through the email contact.

Robin Watson (1941-48) - contemporary with Vera, acknowledges his debt to MH nurses like her

How amazing to hear from a member of staff who was at MH in the early 1940s. I was there at the same time as Vera, but being about 6 years old, don't remember Vera or any of the other staff. However, I would like to reassure her that because of the dedication and affection she and her friends showed, in those dark days, this is one patient who went on to have a good and successful life. At the age of 74 and after 7 years of incarceration in MH, she and her colleagues helped myself and many others, to survive. In fact, the girls must have influenced me in later life, because I married a nurse!! Many thanks Vera. Robin Watson ( MH 1941-1948)

Monday, 7 February 2011

Vera Duxbury - nee Clarke - remembers names of patients and nurses, and comments on visiting rules

I followed up Vera's contribution to ask her if she had any thoughts on visiting hours, something that all of us at Thorpe Arch during her time there had mentioned. She replied:
“I am sure I answer for all of us who worked at the Hospital then, we were greatly upset & disturbed for the children, & most certainly did not agree with the monthly visits, plus we the "front line” nurses, as you might say were the ones to comfort the children. In our defence I have to say our hands were tied, we didn’t have any say in any administration, we worked long hours, with very little money. Nursing was a vocation in those days, & the NHS did not come into being until (I think) 1945?”

Vera had also had time to dig out her old autograph book, from which she gives this list of names. How many of you recognise yourselves?
“The first was a little very poorly little boy, whom I remember quite clearly, his name John Waite, & he printed quite big & unruly, but he was quite young, another patient in large boys, Freddie, also large boys, I think about 15--16yrs, Harry & a Dennis. Doctor Jack Philips, -Sister Zoe Weddall. now nurses, along with "nick names” we gave to each other, we were not allowed to use Christian names in those days.
Nurses: Bulmer, Bully; Pendergast; Milburn, Milly; Speight, Speighty; Oubridge; Towey; Davidson, Dave; Holmes, Jaybus; Moakes, Smokey; Watson; Hibbard,Birdie; Cliffe,Kipps (in the photo); Moorehouse, (left in the photo); Smith, Smiffie; Jackson, Jackie; Dennis(not sure whether a Nurse or patient); Walls; Parkinson, Parky; Smith, Cockey, & last, my nickname was Nobbs.

Despite the war we were a reasonably jolly group, we respected our seniors, even though off duty we had to give up our seats by the fire when a senior came into the sitting room, though we were there first, & we loved our little charges & pray they all recovered.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Vera Duxbury (neé Clarke) shares vivid memories of nursing during World War II

I still have many memories(happy & sad)of my training days at Marguerite. As you know they were the war years, which I would to share with you (Jane) although you were a very young girl(5yrs?). You must have been on Girls' Ward, you would have been too old for the babies' ward.

No, I wouldn’t have been on the photo of the lesson on the veranda. I left in 1945, to do my General training. I do remember of course, how we used to wheel your beds out on to the verandas for school lessons. This photo is of myself & two other friends in our uniforms, taken I think in 1943--4, just outside the Nurses’ Home. I would have been 16--17 yrs. I am on the right, the one on the left is Nurse Moorhouse and the middle - Nurse Cliffe. This is the only memory ‘thing’ I have kept, and my certificate.

My first memory would be the day I started, on my 16th birthday in March 16th 1943. When I arrived I was shown to Matron Downs’s apartment, & then taken to the sewing room where I was fitted for my uniform dresses, caps & collars (I had to provide all my aprons myself, being war time) all 13!! I was then taken to my bedroom which was situated in the main building to start with (under Matrons eagle eye!).

I slept my first night accompanied by dozens of black clock beetles, I had lain on several which were dead, but there were more running around in my bed. I was appalled & disgusted. I can"t recall whether I complained to anyone, I was young & shy, but as I was moved to the nurses’ home the maid who cleaned the rooms must have reported her findings.

You probably wouldn’t know the layout of the other wards, so I will explain briefly. The main building was at the head of the fairly long tree-lined drive, which Matron’s window over-looked (Matron kept an eye on all comings & goings!). At the side & to the back of the main building was the Nurses’ Home (looking to the right standing at the road end). Also to the right was Boys’ Ward, "small boys",& "large boys". Also still looking to the right at the top end of Boys' Ward was Babies’ Ward.

Attached to the right of the main building was the "stoke hole" as we called it, then there were various out buildings large & small, where we would wheel the boys to stay on the night we had dances in their ward (Matron allowed this about once a month, as in war time there was little or no entertainment available). The boys used to love it, & would ask us to go to see them dressed in our long dresses. Airmen from surrounding air bases were invited, & sailors from the "dry" ship in Wetherby (so called because the Sailors & the Wrens trained simulating a ship on water)& of course our own friends.

Night duty was rather frightening when we were either on duty on Girls’ Ward or Babies, as only one nurse was on duty there. Girls’ ward was situated in the main building, as were the kitchens, nurses’ & sisters’ dining rooms, X-ray, treatment rooms, & operating theatre.

One or other of the nurses on Boys’ Ward would have to go to the stoke hole, to stoke the boiler, & to operate the autoclave to sterilize the dressings for the following day. This was a nightmare. The autoclave had to reach 20lb a square inch, & if it went over it would blow off steam, and the first time I did it, it did. I just flew out of the stoke hole absolutely petrified!

Staying with the Boys’ Ward, I was on night duty with I think Nurse Parkinson, "Parky". The night started fairly quiet, though the planes were passing overhead, going out on bombing raids. Boys’ Ward was quite long, there must have been at least 16-18 small boys at the top end & about the same number of large boys, up to the age of 16yrs. The sluices, toilets & treatment rooms were at that end of the ward.

All the boys were in frames or plaster casts, there were no "up" patients. On this particular night, very dark, with only a very dim light because of blackout restrictions, all windows were covered with blackout blinds or curtains. Suddenly, one of the toilets at the far end was flushed. As it was so quiet, all the boys asleep, it sounded so very loud, we were so afraid for there seemed no explanation. We didn't go down the ward to investigate, so it always remained a mystery whilst we both were at the Marguerite.

Many years later about the late 1980s, my friend Dorothy Cliffe (the Nurse in the middle of the photo) & our Husbands went for a visit to the Marguerite, just to renew old memories. We were given permission to wander round all wards (the Hospital was then a home for the elderly)& we went to visit Boys’ Ward. Little had altered, just extra toilets had been added by breaking through a side wall. We spoke to some of the nurses & were told they all thought the ward was haunted. Apparently there were many unexplained incidents, so we told them our own story! We shall never know now, but….

One more memory. The Nurses at Marguerite had to do a stint on each Ward throughout the two year course of Orthopaedic training, it was a good training & I grew up quickly. As I explained previously, Girls’ Ward was situated in the main building. A long corridor ran straight from the imposing front door to a door at the rear of the building.

The Sisters’ dining room & the Nurses’ dining room, plus doors through to the kitchens, were to the right of the corridor, & the door to the Girls’ Ward to the left. There was a small ante room off this corridor, where once a week (I think on a Sunday morning) we Nurses queued up with our two jam jars & Matron would give us our rations of butter & margarine in one jar & sugar in the other (so much was kept by the cook for his baking). As you can imagine we ended up with small amounts to last us for a week! Most of us had used up our portions by about Wednesday! so when we had either a jam or a lemon curd tart for tea, we would scrape off the jam or curd, & make a sandwich, & then make another sandwich with the pastry case. We were so hungry in those days. The bread was a horrid colour but quite tasty.

When on night duty on Girls’ Ward we had go into the kitchens & put the heat on under the huge vats of porridge, at about 5am ready for breakfasts, & as soon as we put the lights on, the horrid black clock beetles would scatter away under cupboards etc.