Retired nurses in Hebburn care home share memories to mark International Nurses Day

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A South Tyneside care home staged a special celebration to mark International Nurses Day.

Hawthorn Court care home, in Hebburn, held an event in honour of those residents and staff who have previously worked as nurses.

Joyce Johnson as a young nurse.

Joyce Johnson as a young nurse.

International Nurses Day is held every year on May 12 to honour Florence Nightingale’s birthday, who is widely considered as the founder of modern nursing.

Retired nurses Noreen Rafferty, Joyce Johnson, Liz Allen and Nora Coltman are all now residents at the home, in St Aloysius View.

They all worked at Ingham Infirmary, at Westoe in South Shields, at different stages of their working lives, which is something Hawthorn Court home manager, Amanda Sleightholme has in common with them.

She said: “It’s an honour to know such a wonderful group of women who have all had such unique journey in the nursing profession.

“As a nurse and on behalf of everyone at Hawthorn Court I would like to thank every nurse and healthcare professional for their hard work and commitment to helping others.”

The ladies have been sharing stories of their past careers.

Joyce said: “I started my training when I was 17 in the 1950s, once i was qualified I became a children’s nurse and then moved into midwifery.

“I was the first person in my street to have a phone, because I needed it for my job. I have met lots of people and have happy memories.”

Noreen began her training in 1944 aged 21 - after responding to an appeal for nurses following the end of the Second Wolrd War.

However, nursing took the medical worker across the globe as she took up positions in America and Canda before coming back to South Shields.

She said: “I returned to the Ingham in 1960 and worked in casualty, then staff nurse on female medical ward, before becoming a sister.

“I stayed there until 1975 and then undertook six months of training in Newcastle to become a clinical teacher.”

Liz did her training in Omagh, Northern Ireland, at the Tyrone and Fermanagh hospital around 1956 to 1958. The hospital still specialises in acute psychiatric care which was Liz’s speciality and saw her become heavily involved with integrating patients back into mainstream society.

At age of 21 Amanda started nursing training at the Ingham Infirmary and Shields General. In 1987 she qualified and was posted on ward 5 medical ward at the Harton Lane site, before moving over to surgical wards back at the Ingham. In 1991 she became a nurse in a care home and then a nursing manager, before ending up in her current role in 2011.

She said: “Best part of the job now is getting to know the residents and their families, hearing their stories and allowing them to have a happy life in Hawthorn Court.”