‘The owl’ was a beautiful bronze statue of a tawny owl cast in memory of Anne White and paid for by the Royal Liverpool Nurses’ (RLH) League. It was displayed at the annual general meeting of the League every year and for the rest of the year its home was in the office of the Director of Nursing at the RLH.
I was a staff nurse on the nurse bank working in the recovery ward for Main Theatres at the ‘new’ Royal. Once we were in scrubs and inside our little world we were quite separate from the rest of the hospital and didn’t really see any of the senior nursing staff unless we were in trouble, so it was quite a shock to be summoned to Dorothy Mercer the Director of Nursing’s office one morning as I had no idea of what I was guilty.
Mrs Mercer welcomed me into her office and asked me to sit down so I realised that I wasn’t in trouble and began to think I was about to receive some personal bad news. This was reinforced when she offered me a cup of tea! I got quite a shock when she said that she had to apologise to me and wondered what on earth had happened.
It was ‘the Owl’. It had been stolen. Mrs Mercer was informing me as Chair of the Nurses’ League that her office had been burgled overnight and the owl had been taken.
Phew! I was so relieved that it was nothing personal to me that I don’t think I appeared very bothered about the owl.
It was a very different matter when I had to tell the rest of the League Committee though; it wasn’t pleasant to be remembered as the Chair who was in office when the owl disappeared.
The police were involved and Mrs Mercer kept me informed of all that was happening, but the owl was never recovered. The police explained that as it was unique and easily identified it would never be sold but probably melted down for the value of the metal. A very sad end for a very special bird, and a very ignominious reflection of my time as League Chair.