'Class of 69' Student Nurse Memories (June '05)
'Whilst working in Edinburgh in the summer of 1969, I met two irish male nurses called Larry O'Dea and Frank O'Connor, who had just completed their training at St Francis and both told me how wonderful the hospital was. So I applied for student nurse training and was accepted to start intially as a Nursing Assistant before formally beginning training in the early 1970 intake.
I arrived at the hospital on a Monday morning in early October and after being told that today was my 'day off', I was shown my new temporary quarters - the sick bay across at Hurstwood Park. I shared a six bedded ward with another student named Peter Bova, whom I eventually became quite friendly with.
The next morning I remember walking to my first day at work and taking a short cut through the woods. I found a small graveyard near the edge of the wood, full of simple iron crosses and very overgrown. It was quite a sad sight as it was packed with the history of patients who had lived and died at the hospital. I wonder what has happened to it today>
For almost all of the following year I worked on Peacehaven Ward with a wonderful ward sister whom I affectionately remember as being a 'mother' to all the students. I think I learned how to shave 30 male patients in a 15 minute period, how to take 30 patients for coffee to the canteen and not lose any, how to hide in the ward kitchen and eat left-over patient dinners without Des Fisher catching us!
After around 3 mionths at Hurstwood Park, I moved into my own room in the Old Male Nurses Home. Actually, my room was right nextr door to the famous Joe Hughes and I can remember swapping Moody Blues and Woodstock LP Record Albums with him.
Afetr my first year was completed and I was rewarded with the grand title of 'Senior student nurse', Mr Jenkins, the SNO, - for reasons known only to him - seemed to favour placing me on Patcham Ward which had a padded cell and was for high dependency patients. I remember working there with Brian Pate, Michael Badman, Peter ???(Watson?) from Hassocks and especially Chris Timms with whom I shared the same warped sense of humour. I wonder if he will remember the day we wrecked the bathroom? If he does then the evidence is as follows : Chris decided, afetr we began one afternoon shift, that the bath in the bathroom were filthy and so needed serious cleeaning. So we assembled a large assortment of bottles from both the medicine and cleaning cupboards, including 5 litres of concentrated bleach, 5 litres of caustic cleaning soda, dtergent, floor cleaner and a litre of washing up liquid. We filled the bath to the rim with very hot water and poured the contents of each bottle and poured the contents of each bottle and jar into every bath in the bathroom. Unfortunately we then had to go away to deal with a patient who had kicked off in the TV lounge resulting in both of us forgetting all about the bathroom. It wasn't until Michael Badman remarked to us both, after his 4.30 tea break, that there was a strange smell coming from the bathroom, that we realised we had forgotten all about our joint cleaning project. We unlocked the bathroom and found that the substances had eroded the enamel on the baths up to 3" below the rims. It was a joint deecision to keep quiet about our project and Charge Nurse Brian Pate never worked out quite what had caused the enamel to erode like it did despite our best efforts to persuade him that ' acid water' had caused it!
Good stuff David, full of memories. Many thanks. JH
Part 2 next time.