Nurses from across the country who trained in Leeds had an emotional reunion yesterday at the place where they first met 50 years ago to the day.
The nurses - some retired, some still working - gathered at the former Roundhay Hall, now Spire Leeds Hospital, to have lunch in the same building where they shared their first meal together, as 18-20 year olds, on January 29 1964.
The hall was the Preliminary Training School (PTS) where they stayed for three months, forging friendships which carried them through the rest of their State Registered Nurse (SRN) training with The General Infirmary at Leeds. Yesterday, as they all sat down to their meal, they reminisced about their time at the hall. Nadine Donaldson, of Keighley, went into district nursing for 20 years after training, before working as a Macmillan nurse in Bradford. She recalled: “There were about 40 of us in a set - you went on night duty together, had blocks of school together. For four years you did everything together.”
Joan Barraclough, who now lives in Burton-on-Trent, went on to work in outpatients’ ENT at Wakefield and nights at LGI. She recalled: “It was strict. You had a list of what you could wear. The hats had to be 11 inches across - and they used to measure them. My parents never visited Roundhay Hall. But if they could, only your mother was allowed in the bedroom. No fathers. Males were banned. It’s just how life was then.”
She added: “It’s fascinating even after all these years you can start talking to people as you did when you were 18. The years just melt away.”
Ann Sharpe, of Outwood, Wakefield, one of the reunion organisers, said: “We had to be in at 10pm every night, so you can imagine by the time we caught the bus from Leeds and walked up, it was a very early night out, unless your boyfriend had a car. We got to know each other very quickly. Of course there were no mobile phones, and just a phone in the hall, so if a boyfriend said he would call you, someone had to be nearby to get the call, then find the nurse he was calling.”