Happy Days At St.Helier Hospital

A Nurse's tale

By Maureen Arnold

Photo:St. Helier Hospital Nurses Training School October 1958. Maureen Arnold 2nd left at the back.

St. Helier Hospital Nurses Training School October 1958. Maureen Arnold 2nd left at the back.

Donated by Maureen Arnold

I came to St. Helier from Dorset in 1958. The hospital was still painted black then, camouflaged from the war and not very welcoming on a gloomy October day. Thirty of us started our training that day and we soon got to know one another as we had to live in Ferguson House, the nurses' home. We had three meals a day and you could have breakfast brought to your room on your day off which we thought was very grand.  We had to be in by 10.30 pm unless you were granted a late pass and no male visitors could go past the ground floor!!

We spent the first three months in the school before we were allocated our first ward. I went to the children's ward first which was on F3. This meant going underground which was quite daunting until you got used to all the tunnels, but we didn't have to go outside to any of the wards except the isolation ward,  which was very good especially when you were on night duty.

We worked a 48-hour week and often had to do split shifts. You stayed on duty till the work was finished and never thought of overtime. Night duty was worked in three month blocks which I liked as you could work ten nights and get five off which meant I could go home if I had enough money.

We enjoyed living on the St. Helier estate and got to know the stall holders at Rose Hill who would give us the odd bargain. We sometimes went to social events at St. Peter's Church. They used to put on very good shows which we enjoyed.

I loved my training and my year as a staff nurse and am very proud of my St. Helier badge.

I spent my whole working life at St.Helier and have very happy memories of the patients I nursed and the doctors, nurses and hospital staff I worked with.

*St. Helier Group of Hospitals.

St. Helier Hospital, Carshalton, Surrey (862 beds). There are vacancies in the Nursing School of this Hospital. Students enter in January, April, July or October. The Hospital is a modern one within easy reach of both London and the beauty spots of Surrey. The 'Block System' of training has been in operation since the opening of the Hospital, which is also recognized by The Central Midwives Board as a Part 1 Training School. Student Nurses are paid a Training Allowance of £200 for the first year, £210 for the second year, plus £5 bonus after passing the Preliminary State Examination and £225 for the third year. Of this £100 will be payable to St. Helier Hospital for board and lodging. They will receive medical attention and the use of uniform. Forms of application and other particulars can be obtained from Matron room T1 who will be pleased to arrange interviews with girls and their parents.

* Advertisement from The Times dated 11th January 1950

This page was added by Maureen Arnold on 10/10/2010.
Comments about this page

I want to get in contact with anyone who was in nursing school with me from 1964 to 1968. I also want to know if there is ever a reunion for the old nurses. I would love to attend. I now live in Georgia, USA. Please feel free to contact me.

By Joyce Raymond nee Edmund
On 10/10/2010

Hi - does anyone remember a Dr Bhatia who is thought to have been at St Helier Hospital in the mid-60s?? get in touch with Sutton Local Studies & Archives please 020 8770 4747 and ask for me.

By Kath Shawcross
On 13/07/2011

I  was in the January 1961 set and I was very interested in the picture of the student nurses group. I have one the same. For a moment I thought it was one of our set obviously they took the photos in the same place. The Sister I remember on the heart ward -I think it was C2? - was Sister Andrews and Miss Stageman and Miss A Y Smyth in the tutors dept. She was lovely and when I went for my final exam, no one knows this, they will now, the uniform shoes I was wearing were a bit "out of date" shall I say, and she said what size do you wear? I said 4 and a half and she said so do I and she told me to change with her just for the exam. So that is what happened. I came 1st in that exam that is the only time I ever came first in anything, lucky shoes they were. That was the sort of lady she was. She was a lovely person and I'll never forget her and the shoe story.louisa

By louisa blackburn
On 14/09/2011

My father was one of the electricians at St Helier Hospital in the 60s and early 70s, his name was Bill Banks, sadly he's deceased now, but can anyone remember him?

By Davidb B
On 27/11/2011

Hi David, Indira Bowen asks if your dad was about 5'4'' weight about 160 lbs, wore baggy white overalls with sagging pockets. Always had a screwdriver and pliers in his pockets. Did he have grey thinning hair? I am just wondering. It was great to read your message.

By Joyce Raymond(Edmund)
On 29/12/2011

I started my nursing training at St Helier hospital in 1948..I would like to catch up with anyone there at that time Reading others memories I laughed....they had to be in by 10:30pm ...we had to be in by 9:00pm.....I loved it there ....anyone remember Sister Burchell ?................

By Doreen Sherwell
On 29/03/2012

My father worked at St. Helier Hospital in the 1960's. He was employed in the kitchens. A chap he worked with done a head & shoulders pencil drawing of my father one lunch. Dad passed away in the hospital in 1965.The drawing now hangs in my bedroom.   

By Sidney Sussex
On 22/10/2014

The picture looks as though it was taken in the hall of the nurses quarters where I spent many a happy Saturday night at the nurses ball. Happy Days. I would however like to hear from the nurse who put cornflakes in my bed on the mens in-patient ward!!

By Tony Rivers
On 13/12/2014

Please can anyone help with a photo of intake of SRN groups in 1968 or 1969 ? Trying to find a photo which included Mohammed Sharif Chaudhary, he was already RMN trained .it would be so helpful for my family .Thank-you so much .

By Marion Montgomery
On 27/01/2019

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