How old are you and how long have you lived in Alton?
I turn 93 this year and have lived in Alton for about six years, although much of the first year was spent in Basingstoke hospital as I needed a big operation.
What made you choose Alton?
I lived in Gloucestershire with my husband but when he died, my daughter – who was a teacher at Alton Convent – persuaded me to move here as she didn’t think I could look after myself properly.
What do you like most about Alton?
I quite like Alton, especially as it reminds me of Berkeley – the town I left in Gloucestershire – where I helped run a small cottage hospital for seven years. Sadly, because of my health, I am pretty much housebound, which means I can’t get out to enjoy Alton as much as I would like.
Tell me a little bit about your favourite time in your life?
Despite the fact my mother didn’t want me to become a nurse, I was determined and was one of the first nurses to train under the new NHS, qualifying in 1955.
I lived in Hull at the time and, in those days, trainee nurses lived together in nurses’ lodgings for six months before being allowed on the wards.
We used to wake at 6am every day for breakfast and lessons, which would last from 8am to 5pm, when we returned to the nurses’ lodge for tea. We would all discuss what we had learnt and do our homework for the next day, and there was a real sense of camaraderie.
I nursed for 45 years and my favourite time of the year was always Christmas, when we would turn our nurse cloak inside out – from blue to red – and carry lanterns around each ward, singing carols to the patients.
Nursing in those days was very different to now and I just loved it. I felt proud to wear my nurse’s uniform and look after patients, and I have so many stories I could share.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
My biggest dream would be to get better so I can fully enjoy the days I have left. Although I loved nursing, there wasn’t any mechanical help in those days so we used to have to turn patients, lift them from falls and do a lot of physical work.
Over the years this has taken its toll on my body which means I am now immobile, which is hard.
However, since I am 92, I don’t think my body will ever fully recover, so my greatest hope is to enjoy as much time as possible with my daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who call me ‘Gi-Gi’!
For further information on the Anna Chaplaincy, call Kate Powell on 07539 026546.