Journal 2016


Welcome to the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Nurses’ League. This weekend marks a special anniversary for my year, as we celebrate 50 years of friendship since commencing our nurse training in 1965, and I we also have friends celebrating from 1960 and 1955. Like everyone here today we meet to share memories with old friends and to enjoy the opportunity to return to the old LRI building where we had so many happy and sometimes sad experiences which have stayed with us ever since.
I would particularly like to remember our senior members, many of whom are unable to come to the Reunions now, but their influence as ward sisters and tutors shaped our futures and we cherish their input to our training, and to the life of the hospital.
Our oldest member Rene Robinson, shared her memories of student life at LRI in a recent article in the Journal. I am grateful to Mary Tait and her husband for visiting Rene at her home in North Wales and transcribing her remarkable story for us, it made fascinating reading. Rene also had some old documents to show, including her hospital certificate, but unfortunately the quality was not good enough for reprinting in the Journal.
Now to the events of this last year. Our links with Liverpool University continue, and once again Mary Newton and I talked to the new cohort of student nurses about our experiences of training 50 years ago. It raises a few eyebrows when we talk about the discipline of living in at Woolton Manor and then the Nurses’ Home, but also gives rise to some interesting discussion about our practical experiences compared to those of students today.
Two Committee members always attend the student nurse prizegiving in the Department of Nursing, and meet the students who received the Rebecca Haynes and Mary Jones Awards, sponsored by the Nurses’ League. We also present the whole group with their University badges as they complete their course of study.
This year the Travel Award was advertised but no suitable applications were received. It will be readvertised next year when we hope to have more success in attracting candidates for interview.
The RLH is developing a project ‘Recording the Royal’ a living oral and photographic history of RLH and its role in the local community. We have been contacted to provide some photos and possibly for any members who transferred from LRI to RLH to be interviewed about their experiences. By the time the new hospital opens in 2 years’ time, it is hoped to have this exhibition ready for viewing in the corridors of the building.
Several Committee members attended the first RLH & BG graduation of nurses in St Georges Hall in May. As you will have seen in the Journal, a newly designed hospital badge featuring the Liver Bird was presented to staff who had completed a programme of skills to show competency in practice. Susie Overill appeared in the introductory video showing our LRI hospital badge. Her pride in our training school was the key to the theme of the day, and Chief Nurse Lisa Grant, spoke with enthusiasm about her wish to foster a similar pride in RLH. It was an inspirational day which gave us hope for the future of nursing in the new hospital.
Lisa Grant also recognises the history of excellent nursing in Liverpool, and would like to offer the opportunity to present our Nurses’ League members with an honorary badge in thanks for our contribution to the community of Liverpool. To this end, we will be contacting members, to see who would like to take up the offer. For those of you here today we ask that you see Moira Sargent after the tea if you wish to do so.
In June, Dot Williams organised another successful lunch in the lovely setting of the Port Meirion Hotel. Not as many people were able to attend as last year, but there was just as much chatter and reminiscing from those who could be there. Sadly Dot was admitted to hospital recently after suffering a stroke. However she is making good progress and we all wish her well in her recovery. We owe her so much in organising the Port Meirion lunch each year, and as next year’s date is already booked, I hope she can be with us again to just sit back and enjoy the occasion.
Now onto the business of the League. Sadly we have had no success in recruiting new committee members, despite making several requests for volunteers via the website and at last year’s Annual Meeting. This year we lose Moira Sargent as Secretary, and next year Mary Newton as Journal Editor, as they complete their respective terms of office. These are 2 key roles without which we cannot run the League as it is now. If no one comes forward in the next 12 months we will have to consider not having a Journal after 2016. We do have the website as an ongoing means of communication, and we will be putting more information on it next year which would normally feature in the Journal about this years Annual Meeting and about the University awards.
At our next committee meeting in November we intend to look at the future of the League and how we can function with less committee members to share the work. Any new volunteers would work alongside present members for their first year before taking on a role, there is always support, no-one is expected to step straight into a key job. I urge those of you who live within travelling distance of Liverpool who have some time to give, to please speak to one of the committee members today so that we can plan at least until 2018, when we celebrate 85 years of the Nurses’ League.
My sincere thanks go to the present committee members for their dedication to the League. Each of them has played their part in working together as a team to keep the administration of the League running smoothly, which in turn makes my job easier. I’m sure you will all agree that Mary Newton produced another excellent Journal this year, and Susie Overill has kept us informed of the latest news as well as looking at memories and generally overseeing the website. Both of them would love to get more stories and photographs from you to publish during the next 12 months, so get your thinking caps on and let us know what stories you remember best about your life at LRI or since.
As I mentioned earlier we say goodbye to Moira today, she has been undertaking secretarial duties for the last 5 years and has been key to organising the Annual Meeting during this period. She has done this so well and always takes the time to talk to our members if they have any queries or need any advice about the Reunion. We will miss you Moira, and hope you enjoy having more time to spend on your other hobbies now that you have retired.
Finally I would like to thank the staff of the Foresight Centre for looking after us so well this afternoon, and Ian Campbell for taking the time to show many of us around the Waterhouse building.
It only remains for me to wish you all a splendid afternoon catching up with old friends and enjoying being once again in this lovely old building which we think of as home.

Any other Business

Proposal for new League members.
At the RLH Graduation Ceremony in May we were talking to several senior staff working at the hospital about the LRI Nurses’ League. They expressed regret that they had not had a chance to join a League as they trained in the later 1980’s after the United Liverpool Hospitals League had disbanded.
As President, I would like to propose that anyone who trained at the Royal Liverpool Hospital from 1978 until Project 2000 was introduced in 1990, should be eligible to join our Nurses’ League. This would not only encourage younger members to join us but would also maintain our links with the hospital.
A show of hands demonstrated that a majority of those present agreed to this proposal.
There being no other business the meeting closed with everyone standing to say the ‘Nurses Prayer’ together.

A Prayer from Joy Stanley 

I have been very challenged this year at the escalating cruelties and killings every day in our news bulletins, and what I could or should be doing to help in some way.
The World at war or does it just seem so, even the so called lands at peace have children killing each other. We have colleagues who trained in this school in many of these places. There are many fleeing from these atrocities with nowhere to go. I personally remember Sister Eggerton and her stories of times in the war, a scary lady but also a very compassionate and practical person, Ruth Halsall remembers her lovely smile.
Coming now from Norfolk, the news has been full of the nurse, Edith Cavell. 100 years since she was shot for helping service men of all nationalities. We have much to be grateful for in our country, this place and our families, is there anything we should be doing?
Shall we pray
Lord we thank you for this place and all that was taught us and demonstrated to us, the friends we made and the people who led so well. 
We thank you for that training and the confidence and strength it gave us to manage ALL areas of our lives.
We thank you that this place that has been revived and is used for training other young people and care for their medical needs. 
Thank you for the joy in returning and renewing friendships, we remember those who can no longer join us through ill health or distance to travel, bless and comfort them where ever they are.
Lord we ask for other volunteers to join the committee in helping to maintain this wonderful privilege.
Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer
Lord we thank you for our land at peace but facing difficulties and ask for all our leaders that they may be guided to act wisely, justly and compassionately.
We thank you for those who go the extra mile in varied situations especially those who are in dangerous situations, fighting oppressors and disease. We bring the young nurse with secondary infections from Ebola to you, those who care for her and her family to you for your comfort and care.
Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

. We pray for those at war and suffering the effects of violence, those fleeing to find peace and safety. 
We ask Lord how we should respond, for wisdom and grace to dare to go wherever you ask, to open our hearts to share what you have given. Lord for peace in our time we pray
. Lord in your mercy; hear our prayer

.We think of friends we see no more, may they be at peace and in your presence.
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.


Those of us at the reunion were delighted by Megs presentation regarding the publication of her book Captive Memories. Meg had previously asked us to advertise this book as she is hoping that members of the League may have been nurses on Tropics and nursed some of these men. If you do have that experience she would very much like to talk to you – please contact me through the website and I will forward your details. (you can send a private email on the ‘contact us ‘ tab.)

Captive Memories: Far East POWs & Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
by Meg Parkes and Geoff Gill

Conditions for Far East Prisoners of War were truly hellish. Appalling diseases were rife. It was these ongoing physical after effects of captivity that brought a group of men into contact with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Beginning in 1946 and lasting right up to the present day, LSTM’s involvement with the health (and latterly the history) of these veterans, represents the longest collaborative partnership ever undertaken by the School. Out of this unique and enduring relationship came knowledge which has improved the diagnosis and treatment of some tropical infections, together with a greater understanding of the long-term psychological effects of Far East captivity.

Journal Editor/ Membership Secretary’s Report 2016

I must firstly apologise to Mary Tait for omitting to acknowledge her contribution in the last Journal regarding Rene Robinson.
The last year has been a challenging one for the Committee as, although we have recruited one new member, we are still short of help. There is a message in the Journal, from the President on behalf of the Committee, regarding our future.
Despite extending our membership during the last year we have only received three new members.
My thanks go to all who have contributed this year. As I wrote last year that 2015 was to be probably the penultimate edition of the Journal in this current format then this will be the last year. I will be in discussion with our present printers and the Committee as to the best way forward for next year.
If you wish to get in touch with any of the Committee regarding any issues please use your membership number, which is printed on the outside of your envelope.
Many thanks go to all the staff at Kingfisher Design and Print for their invaluable help in producing this Journal.
Mary Newton

Archivist Report 2016

In 1865 Agnes Jones, was appointed to the post of Lady Superintendent of the Liverpool Brownlow Hill Workhouse Infirmary, the first trained nurse to be appointed to a post in a Workhouse Infirmary in the country. Agnes had undertaken nurse training at the Kasierwerth Institute, Cologne, Germany and then, in 1862, at the Nightingale School at St Thomas’s Hospital London. On completion of her nurse training Agnes took charge of a small hospital in Bolsover Street and then the Great Northern Hospital.

In 1862 William Rathbone had successfully developed, with the support of Florence Nightingale, the first district nursing service, and in 1859 the first provincial training school for nurses in Liverpool. As a member of the Committee of the Brownlow Hill Workhouse he was concerned by the terrible social conditions for the inmates in the Liverpool Workhouses. William Rathbone asked Florence Nightingale to recommend a trained nurse to help him improve the conditions in the Liverpool Brownlow Hill Workhouse Infirmary and Miss Nightingale replied that she was sending him her best pupil, Agnes Jones, “who has the vision and the discipline to implement a more effective system of management for the Brownlow Hill Workhouse Infirmary “, but first, Agnes had to ask her mother’s permission to take the post!

Agnes Jones did take the post and in a very short time and with a great deal of hard work brought immense improvements in the workhouse conditions. Miss Nightingale noted that in less than three years, Agnes had reduced one of the most disorderly hospitals populations in the world to something like Christian discipline, “such as the police themselves wondered at it ”

Agnes was only in post for 6 years before her death from typhus in 1868, contracted while nursing a member of her staff. When she died all the staff and inmates lined the stairs and wept as her coffin was carried out of the Workhouse.

The overwhelming grief at her death and the public recognition of her hard work and selfless dedication was demonstrated (in true Victorian tradition) by creation of public memorials to honour her achievements. In the Lady Chapel of the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, there is a commemorative stained glass window dedicated to the memory of number of Liverpool health pioneers including Agnes Jones. In the village Church of Fahan, County Donegal, where she spent her childhood and is buried, there is a large memorial statue.

It was with great interest that I discovered from my research in the Liverpool records office, that a second memorial statue had been erected in her honour and had stood in the Liverpool Workhouse chapel. When the Workhouse was closed, the statue was transferred to Walton Hospital chapel finally ending up in a store room. In 1989 the statue was transferred to the Liverpool Oratory as part of the Liverpool museum collection. This monument is a marble statue representing the angel of the resurrection seated with trumpet. At the base of the statue, is an inscription composed by Florence Nightingale and the Bishop of Derry.

It was with great excitement that I waited at the entrance of the Liverpool Oratory, St James Cemetery one very cold and windy January afternoon. The Liverpool Oratory had been undergoing planned renovation so it has taken a little while to arrange an appointment to see the statue. But when the curator opened the doors and I had my first view of ” Work house Angel” Agnes Jones, a massive and imposing memorial, it was worth the wait!

Agnes Jones achievements may have been a little overshadowed by those of Florence Nightingale, but as the 150th anniversary of her death in 1866 approaches it is important to consider how we as Liverpool nurses should celebrate her achievements in providing humane professional social care for the poorest in society, but also promoting professional ethical and moral standards in nursing practice. A discussion topic over afternoon tea at the Annual Reunion?

The statue can be viewed by appointment with the National Museum and Galleries on Merseyside. The statue is housed in the small Greek style temple ” The Liverpool Oratory ” in the grounds of the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.

Monument to Agnes Elizabeth Jones (1832 -68 )

The Workhouse Angel

Sculptor Pietro Tenerani 1789-1869

Val Thornes


Website Report 2016

The website has developed fairly well over the last year. There has been a noticeable increase in postings on the Message Board from nurses, who may or may not be League Members, trying to get in touch with colleagues for reunions. That is very heartening as we had hoped it would be useful in this way when we were devising the categories.
Pat and I continue to add content as we feel appropriate and thank people for their messages and items to post.
There have been very few photos supplied despite repeated requests. It is frustrating to think of the many images which must be tucked away in drawers and cases yet could be enjoyed by us all. Many thanks to those who have sent content, we really appreciate it. For the first time we posted some selected content on to the Website from the Journal after it was published and circulated to members. This practice will continue this year but will not be the full content of the Journal.
I can only ask yet again for your anecdotes, observations, memorabilia and photos to share on the Website and help make this a fascinating historical resource for those who follow us.
Susie Overill 2016


Minutes from the Liverpool Royal Infirmary Nurses’ League
82nd Annual Reunion 17 Oct 2015
Present: Carolyn Rankine President
Moira Sargent Secretary
Susie Overill Website Editor
Mary Newton Journal Editor
Joy Stanley Treasurer
Val Thornes Archivist
Jane Kemp Minutes Secretary
Susan Butterworth Committee Member

106 ordinary members, 2 visitors

The President welcomed everyone to the reunion and the introductory prayer was read by Joy Stanley (printed on the inside cover).

There then followed a short presentation by Meg Parkes, MPhil, Honorary Research Fellow at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Meg gave a passionate, enthusiastic and moving talk about the subject of her recent book “Captive Memories” which examines medical and nursing facilities in the Japanese POW camps of WWII. She gave examples of some of the innovations and adaptations made by the prisoners to provide health care and showed some footage of interviews with men who had been prisoners. Meg said that she believes that the men who survived only did so because they had the unwavering support of their ‘mates’ in the camps; they literally did anything and everything in order to help each other. She also noted that the research which began in 1945 following release of the prisoners was invaluable in increasing the knowledge and treatment of tropical diseases, and that ex-POWs who are still alive today, aged 90 and over, are still involved in the work. All the money raised from today’s raffle is to go to the research fund at the School of Tropical Medicine, which continues to support these gentlemen.

Apologies and Greetings received
Elspeth Yule Margaret Dawson
Mary Railton-Crowder Daphne Cunningham
June Maguire Viv Davies
Gwen Cuss Rosalind Shannon
Pat Croston Betty Hoare
Jean Burden Joan Roberts
Margaret Glenys Jones Pat Mann
Jean Hitchcock Mary Tait
Gwenda Pratt Dot Williams
Gwen Moreland Jean Overton
Jeanie Edwards Brenda Hankin
Sheila Jones Hilary McGrady
Christine Hughes Ann Crook
Ann Goodchild

Since the journal was published, sadly, the committee has been informed that several of our members have passed away.
Mrs Gillian Vernon nee Sandieson 1951
Mrs Mavis McNeelance nee Gray 1951
Mrs G.B, Knight nee Radcliffe 1948

Non members

Mrs Gwladys Jones nee Enit 1948
May we now take a moment to remember them in our thoughts and prayers.
The minutes of the 81st AGM, held on Saturday 18th October 2014, were accepted as a correct record and signed by the President.


175 Years Forever Cunard

I still can’t believe that I’ve just enjoyed and been part of an Historical moment, in the history of Liverpool, when the” 3 Queens “ sailed into Cunard’s Spiritual Home Port to celebrate 175 years of that happening.

Jeanne Edwards and I set sail from Southampton on the Queen Mary making our first port of call at Cobh in Southern Ireland, where the earlier Cunard ships, including the Titanic, called to take Irish Immigrants to America. From there we went to Dun Laoghaire and for those visiting Dublin it was a bit tricky by Tender as the swell was a bit rough.

Despite a very dull and murky morning we had a lovely warm welcome at Greenock in Scotland. It was an even warmer departure at 9.30 in the evening to the sound of pipes and drums on the quayside, with thousands of people in their cars lining the roadways and a wonderful fireworks display. Cruising through the Firth of Clyde and the Firth of Lorne the Queen Mary paid her first visit to Oban. A much smoother trip by tender to get ashore this time with many passengers off to visit the lochs and glens, such as Loch Fyne and Awe, as well as those wanting another boat trip to the Isles of Mull and Iona.

Sailing back through the Western Isles and around the Isle of Man the “Mary” crossed the Bar on a somewhat misty early Sunday morning. How disappointing, but not without bit of a laugh, as I had to explain to an American passenger “who the hell those crazy guys”, were standing in the water, as we passed Crosby Beach!

How proud I felt finally arriving at Princes Landing Stage, the skies somewhat clearer, with the Liverbirds looking as if they would flap their wings in welcome. What a welcome from the volunteers who helped the disabled on and off gangways to access the Cruise Terminal and buses for a visit to see the City, to the friendliness of the Scousers, themselves, who had flocked in their thousands to see the “Mary”. The evening concert, the light display and the fireworks were another great spectacle, although people watching on T.V. probably saw more than I did due to the angle I was watching. I was amused to hear the following day that many passengers from the Merseyside area went home to watch it all on the Telly!

On schedule at 9.30 am on Monday morning the Queen Mary upped anchor and steamed towards the Bar. It was really exciting to stand high on the forward deck as two black dots on the horizon emerged out of the mist. They grew larger and larger finally revealing the selves as the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. They were escorted by many small boats including the Lifeboat from Hoylake Station. For the thousands of people lining both sides of the river it must have been a fantastic sight as all “3 Queens” manoeuvred to salute the “3 Graces”. This was topped by the Fly Past of the Red Arrows!

Perhaps many of the crowd could have heard the “Mary’s” ships orchestra give a wonderful rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, with the passengers giving as good a voice as you can hear on the Kop. I wish I’d taken my football scarf to wave about! With blasts from all three ships horns the Queen Mary took her leave, making way for the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria to enjoy the hospitality and friendship that comes from visiting Liverpool.

Jean Woods and Jeanne Edwards.
Both trained at Liverpool Royal Infirmary 1949-1953, and both served as Nursing Sisters with the Cunard Steamship Co.


Farewell to Portmeirion 2016

After many years of meeting together in local hotels, our Welsh members moved to the Portmeirion Hotel 16 years ago. Several ‘Royal’ nurses from the Wirral and Liverpool have since joined in their annual get together to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere in such a beautiful setting.
Sadly, numbers have declined over the last few years as members become older and less able to travel. Dot Williams, who organised the Reunion at the hotel has suffered ill health herself during this last year, and so after consultation amongst friends, the Welsh Reunion at Portmeirion is to end at the request of the members.
It is the end of an era, and the League’s sincere thanks go to Eve Price and Olwen Shepherd who started the local ‘get togethers’, and then to Dot Williams for organising the Portmeirion lunches. Dot has cancelled the booking for this year, so please do not try to contact her in June.
I am sure that our Welsh friends will continue to meet together in smaller groups locally again as so many of us Royal nurses do. There is a special bond of friendship which will always go on.

Carolyn Rankine (League President)


Memories of Training at Liverpool Royal Infirmary September 1965-September 1968

I remember my interview with Miss Sarah Jackson very well. She asked if I had been confirmed and what sports I played! It was a daunting experience as she sat behind her large mahogany desk with “strings” on her cap. As I had only 4 “O” levels I had to take the General Nursing Council entrance exam, but was not the only one so I didn’t feel alone. A couple of weeks later I received the letter inviting me to start training on the 6th September 1965.
After a brief introduction in the Nurse’s home at LRI we were taken to Woolton Manor for our first eight weeks. The dormitory style bedrooms, which had no ceilings, meant we could chatter after lights out at 10pm! Food at P.T.S. was very tasty and I can still remember the taste of the delicious cauliflower cheese fifty years on! Days here were spent having various lectures and I recall the delightful Sister Laura Jones teaching us how to give a bedpan. We spent time in our yellow “daffodil” dresses visiting wards at LRI and I was based on Clarence ward with Tilly Lewenden and Irene Ashmore. Our eight weeks flew by and then it was time to move back to LRI and begin our training in earnest.
As we were the most junior we had rooms on the 5th floor of the “New” nurses’ home. The rooms were basic as were the bathrooms, where sometimes you had to queue up in order to take a bath. We would be able to make a hot drink in the tiny kitchen provided and many evenings, after a long day, we would gather in someone’s room to discuss any problems or dilemmas we had encountered during that day. So wonderful to have friends who understood any burning issue we had to get off our chest. I feel these times spent together has made us such close friends for so many years.
After Clarence ward I moved to ward 7 we all came together for first year Study Block. Miss Haynes asked if six of us were prepared to do a period of nights after block and somehow my hand went up with Elena, Pip, Carolyn, Mary and Val. I went on to ward 8 for these nights and moved to the night nurses’ home at 13 Rodney Street. We were transported back and forth to sleep and work by “Wally” in a minibus! Miss Martin, ( Marty), reigned supreme at Rodney Street! Sometimes Elena, Mary and I would help her in the garden and be rewarded with tea and cake! I can still remember her saying “no prams in the hall”. At the end of this spell of night duty Elena, Mary, Moira and I went to Brixham, in Devon, for a holiday in a caravan.
A great deal of second year was spent gaining experience in other specialities including Paediatrics, Ophthalmics or ENT Nursing. In my final year I went to Oxford Street Maternity hospital where I gained experience in Obstetrics and Midwifery. We had by now all moved into the “Old” Nurses’ Home, where we all secretly acquired keys for easy access!
Reflecting back on my time spent training I wouldn’t have wished to change my living on site. I am so happy to be part of the September 1965 P.T.S., celebrating 50 years since we began training to become State Registered Nurse’s. Happy memories that live on with our friendship.

Hilary Collins nee Phillips Sept 1965


Fifty Years Celebration

A weekend of celebration took place at the Hilton Hotel, Liverpool One, on the 16th October 2015, when 21 nurses met up 50 years after our start in P.T.S in 1965. Most had come from various parts of the U.K. but others from Australia, Canada and South Africa, with some not seeing each other for as long as 47 years! However, it was as though time had stood still as we chatted, photographed and caught up with each other.
We spent Friday evening at the “Let it Be” concert at the Royal Court theatre, and of course having been in Liverpool in the 1960s we all knew the words and could sing along! On Saturday we attended the Annual Reunion at the “Royal” followed by afternoon tea.
On Saturday evening we had a sumptuous dinner in a private room at the Hilton. We were entertained, between courses, by Susan’s jokes and Wendy’s rendition regarding the good and not so good times, as well as all the crying we did during our training. We took some time to remember those friends who, for various reasons, could not be with us. On Sunday we all went on our individual ways again. I’m convinced that our friendship through trial and tribulation, laughter and happiness has made us the energetic and spirited women that we are today. All of our thanks go to Hilary and Pauline for arranging this very special reunion.

Marilyn King. On behalf of all the September 1965 P.T.S.


Looking to the future

At a recent committee meeting the future of the Nurses’ League in its current form was discussed at length.
Within the next two years, the core of committee members will either be approaching or have passed the end of their four year terms of office, and despite requests at the Annual Meeting and on the website for new members to come forward, only one person responded. Without filling the key roles that they perform the League cannot function, and so this is a final heart-felt request to any of our members who can give their time to join us for three meetings per year at the Foresight Centre, to contact either myself or Mary Newton. We value new ideas and opinions and you would work alongside the experienced committee members for the first 12 months in post.
The present committee members are prepared to remain in office until the League celebrates its 85th Anniversary in 2018 and then its future is in the balance.
Our other big consideration is the future format of the Annual Reunion Meeting, which we made self- financing in 2014 by charging £20 per member. This covers the cost of hiring the rooms and the catering at today’s prices, but if these costs rise any further over the next two years then we need to consider an alternative venue. As our membership declines we want to explore the possibility of either afternoon tea in a city centre hotel or a lunch at the Adelphi Hotel, which is where our friends from RSH and DLNH meet for their reunions. A three course meal would work out at a similar price to what we pay for the Foresight Centre, and the Adelphi is very accessible for Lime Street station and for public transport.
Our Welsh members have already made the decision to ‘go out on a high’ as their numbers for the Portmeirion lunch have decreased, and the time has now come for us all to think how we want to proceed. We all want to keep the bond of friendship which is so important to us alive, but how we do this is in your hands. I hope to see many of you at this year’s Annual Reunion where you will get the chance to let us know what you think.
Carolyn Rankine – League President


Memories of Prizegiving 1954

At this prizegiving Maureen Weir, nee Thornton, was awarded the Gold Medal and I was to receive one of the other prizes. I won the Elizabeth Pearson prize for an essay on a nursing subject and received an envelope with £30.
My black lace up shoes had a split across a crease and I did not want to replace them as I was about to leave! I decided to cover the split with a strip of Elastoplast, (no sellotape in 1954), and disguised it with black polish and hope! This was spotted by the eagle-eyed Sister Darrock on inspection. She was not pleased with me and gave me the key to her room on the sister’s corridor and told me where to find a pair of suitable shoes, which I did!
The official photograph of all the prizewinners shows us on the platform in the Outpatients Hall lined up facing from left to right, with the eyes of the audience on the front row level with our feet.
Sylvia Smith October 1950



I recently posted a link on the LRI website relating to photos from the 1960s taken in Liverpool. As part of Shelters 50th anniversary, the housing and homelessness charity is searching for the people behind the pictures and is urging Liverpool residents to help identify family or friends. Since then I can’t get over the shock I experienced when looking at them. They depict utter squalor and poverty of the sort that is difficult to imagine today with our social support network, despite its current shortcomings. It has made me reflect on what little I knew about poverty as I grew up in Liverpool and how sheltered an upbringing I suspect most of us had.

I was born in Lydiate, on a farm, and moved to Waterloo when I was three when my father died. We had very little money growing up as my mother was widowed aged 37 and left with 5 girls, I was the youngest, but she was a country woman who knew how to cook and make things last. We had hens and a productive garden so I don’t remember shortages even though rationing didn’t end until I was 9.

I have very clear memories of riding the bus into town with my mother and seeing all the bomb damage, especially a huge crater at the Rotunda on Scotland Road. I knew that many poor people lived in those streets with the flower names and we had dense choking fogs which turned our white clothes yellow and grimy. When I had my tonsils out my mother and I walked up a steep street from Scotland Road to John Bagot Hospital and I can remember the dress I wore that day so clearly. I also remember the trams and old St Johns market with all the men shouting to attract the housewives to buy, the shawlies and the chickens hanging up with all their feathers still on. But I also went to beautiful tearooms with my grandmother and aunts dressed in furs and sat in splendour taking afternoon tea. They went to Coopers for cheese and ground coffee and Bon Marche for lovely hats and perfume.

When I started primary school there was one boy who we all knew was poor but he was very naughty so I didn’t make friends with him, some of the girls came from a local Nazareth House orphanage and the strongest memory I had of one who became my friend was that she smelled quite different. She told me it was the soap they used. I suppose it was Carbolic or Lifebuoy but she hated it.

My Aunt was a Sister in the Medical Centre on Gladstone Dock. She was terrifically smart and attractive, immaculately turned out in her uniform complete with cuffs! The clinic was spotless and very well run, as a special treat I would visit with my Mother and walk down the long cobbled street with all the dockers. The nuns with their collecting tins were always waiting at the gates on payday for alms and the men were very generous I think. They were very respectful of my aunt and she was treated with great esteem by them.
My mother always visited the sick and elderly, even after she had a stroke late in life and was older than most of them! We often went with her as children and I have fond memories of baking cakes to give them and chats over a cup of tea, but all of them were in accommodation that was fine to my eyes. There were no bare boards, peeling wallpaper or mouldy walls such as in the photos. So I grew up imagining that was how it was when you were poor.

I started PTS August 1963 which would be around the times of those photos. As a naive, very unsophisticated girl it never entered my head that the men and women who presented themselves for admission could have come from such situations of dire poverty. It was different if it was an emergency admission of course. I expect the doctors asked about social conditions when they clerked patients in but I don’t recall ever thinking about such things as whether a patient had running water, hot water, a toilet to themselves, how many to a room or bed.

Even now I can’t explain how I just assumed everyone had what I considered normal living conditions- some better -some not as good but most ok. I am bewildered to think I presumed on discharge that patients would return to warm living quarters with enough food to build themselves up, be looked after and recuperate over time. I had no knowledge of dockers in pens waiting to be picked for a day’s labour or of the alternative if they weren’t. No idea about how you lived if you had nothing and a bunch of children.

So I have had to acknowledge how thoughtless I must have seemed advising these lovely patients, in the main, on how to recover on discharge and make lifestyle changes in blissful ignorance of the influences that would conspire to maintain disease despite my cheerful suggestions. But my innocence was tolerated by them all, I never remember a patient challenging me and telling me of their true domestic circumstances. I wish they had so that I think I would have hopefully added some more compassion to my professional behaviour. All I can say after all these years is I’m sorry for my lack of understanding -but I really did try to do my best.

Susie Overill
Pictures taken by documentary photographer Nick Hedges 1969-1971