People: My Life as a Rural Doctor's Wife over 3 Decades

The following talk was given by Jane Mann to the Pensilva History Group on Wednesday 28th November 2012. The full content of Jane's talk will be reproduced here by instalments over the next few weeks.

The Old Parsonage, Pensilva

"I left school and went straight to Guy's Hospital in London to train as a nurse. I loved the training and eventually became State Registered and also acquired a hospital medal. For a short time I was a staff nurse on Theatres and then I was promoted to Theatre Sister. It was an exciting time as I was in the theatre when the first heart operation was performed. It was done by Sir Russell Brock and was on a blue baby.

I married my husband who was a newly qualified Doctor from Guys and for the first year he was a trainee general practioner at the practice at Great Whitley in Worcestershire. At the end of that time my first son, Colin was born in the Ronkswood Hospital in Worcester.

We came to Pensilva to live in the Old Parsonage at the beginning of October in 1959 when my son was 3 months old.

We came to a dispensing practice covering a large area.

There was a partnership with Bob Dyke who lived at Rilla Mill with his wife Eleanor and three children and his practice covered a large area.

Prior to our arrival in Pensilva the practice Doctor was Dr Tregarthen who had come after the war with his wife and 2 boys. Prior to Dr Tregarthen had been Dr Smale. They both lived at The Old Parsonage. Dr Tregarthen was now retiring.

We took on the house and also Bernard Dymond whose official title was surgery man. He was a single man who had lived in the village all his life and his father had been Dr Smale's coachman. Bernard cleaned the surgery and also did the gardening.

The house was large with 5 bedrooms and the surgery was in the grounds but not attached to the house althought the building has now been joined up. There is a well inside the house and in Dr Smale's time the surgery had been inside the house with the waiting room just inside the back door.

Mains water has been put in the village the previous year and prior to that Bernard would pump the water from the well up to the storage tank inside the roof. This would take him quite a while each day.

Apart from the large back garden there was land across the road in school road. Land where the Health Centre is now built, the land where the house next door to the Health Centre and the garage that is still there. Bernard would grow vegetables on all that land.

The Old Parsonage has a large living room and at that time had a large open fireplace which is still there but has been altered.

The kitchen had a coal fired Aga which horrified me at first and I begged for a proper oven as soon as possible but I very quickly became very fond of it and found it wonderful for baking and the slow oven was perfect for mutton and rice puddings and for keeping meals warm when mealtimes were delayed, which was often.

The surgery was a converted barn. It consisted of a waiting room and the surgery with the dispensing done in the surgery and the patient's notes stored there too. There was also a, not very nice, outside toilet.

The new house

My husband had no other help but myself and I was on duty from the first day and always completely unpaid, although in the '80s there was a pension scheme started for Working Wives of General Practitioners, but that was after 20 years and nearly too late for me. I was happy to do this as a service to my community but did not realise that I would almost completely lose my freedom or how much it would affect my children as well, as I could not take them out for a walk or attend events at their school unless we were off duty. I had to answer the door bell and the telephone at all times as well as being general dogsbody, cleaning up messes, putting away patient's cards, helping with the dispensing and holding the fort while the doctor was out. We were on duty 24 hours a day with the exception of a half day on Wednesdays and alternate weekends from lunchtime on Saturday. At those times Bob Dyke would take over for emergencies and we were on duty for him on Thursday afternoons and alternate weekends.

On my very first morning I answered the telephpne to hear a voice say in a very Cornish accent "will you tell the Doctor that my little maid has a quillaway!". I had no idea what a 'quillaway' was but said that I would tell the doctor. In my mind the little maid was wearing a cap and apron and was doing the 'housework' but it was Bernard who told me that it was a farmer who had rung up and the little maid was his daughter and the 'quillaway' was a sty in her eye.

The telephone was in a little room in the house and I had to turn a handle to convey messages to the surgery. I never let the phone ring for long because it may have been an emergency. Answering machines had not been invented and there were no mobile phones. It was a few years before we had a bell placed on the outside wall of the house so that I could go in the garden but the garden was large and if I went down to the bottom and the phone rang I had to pelt up the path in order to answer the phone.

For the first two and a half years that I was in the house I had no washing machine. The same water pipe connected to the house and the surgery and the pressure was low in the surgery when a tap was turned on in the house and vice versa so I was forbidden to use water for washing up the breakfast dishes or washing clothes until surgery was finished. Nappies were Terry towelling and I had had my second child for 6 months before I got the washing machine. It was not easy. All the bedrooms upstairs had a basin in them but the pipes upstairs were made of lead so I would not let the children drink the upstairs water and it was the first thing I told visitors to the house.

My second son, Tony, was born in the house on a Sunday of our weekend on duty when Colin was 23 months old. I was answering the phone until half an hour before the birth and immediately afterwards! Just before he arrived I answered the phone to a voice that I recognised because the family was accident prone and constantly hurting themselves. I was always very polite on the phone but it was so near the birth that I was a bit sharp saying "What is it THIS time?" Sure enough one of the children had cut himself.

My daughter was also born at home when Colin was 5 and Tony 3. She was born in the night and we called her Christine Julia. The b oys do not see her until the morning when they were very excited to see their sister. Colin went off to school and in the afternoon I got a telephone call from one of the teachers at the school who said "please can you tell me if you have a little boy or little girl?" Apparently Colin was so excited that he junped up in assembly and announced that he had a new baby but they could not tell whether it was Christine Julia or Christion Julian! because of his excitement.

The school was very small by today's standards. It had 3 classes. The 5 and 6 year olds were in the first, the seven and eight year old in the second and the rest were in the top class. Colin went there at 5 years old and like all my children he was reading well because, not being able to go out, I had time to spend with the children. On his first day he begged me to wear the same dress when I came to bring him home in case he didn't recognise me! In the event he came out of school very pleased because Miss Fitze, the infant teacher, had given him a sweet because he read so well.

There were no playgroups then but when they did start, a few years later, Miss Fitze was not pleased because she said that if the infants had been to a playgroup when they came to her they would not be prepared to sit still and work!

My weekly shopping came from The International Stores in Liskeard. I would ring up with the order and it would be delivered on a Thursday afternoon. If I ran out of anything and went to a shop in Pensilva I was always in a hurry because I had left the telephone and had to get home quickly but I found that the shopkeepers wanted their clients to stop and have a chat and were not pleased when I hurried off.

It was a very cold day in January and I was having a children's party for the 2 boys when Christine was 9 month old. I was busy in the kitchen preparing food and my husband was out when the back door bell rang. It was a local girl who told me that she was having a baby NOW. I asked her how many weeks pregnant she was and she answered 30 weeks. This was in the 60s and 30 weeks was so premature that few babies survived even in hospital. Although I was a trained nurse I had never delivered a baby and was very worried about this one. I made her comfortable in the surgery and ran indoors to the house to ring first for an ambulance and then ring Bob Dyke, who was not at home but Eleanor said she would try to find him and I said "ask him to bring a maternity pack if he has one". I rushed upstairs to get towels and then asked Colin to look after the baby, who was in her pram and told him I would be in the surgery. I went back to the girl and very apprehensively was preparing to deliver this very premature baby when Bob Dyke arrived. What a relief! The baby arrived immediately and was a beautiful little girl, not premature at all. She had got her dates wrong! The baby was wrapped in a towel and I carried her into the house to sit by the Aga and keep her warm until the ambulance arrived leaving Bob with the mum. After all the excitment and the ambulance had left I went back to preparing food for the imminent party which went off well.

One day during the morning after surgery while my husband was out I received a phone call to say that a patient had died on the outside toilet at a cottage in St Ive. I assured the caller that I would tell the doctor when he came home and he would go to St Ive. I then went into the road to see if there was any sign of his car. I couldn't see it but the village policeman rode by on his bicycle. I stopped him and explained what had happened and he said that he would go there straight away, which he did, and he found that the patient, although very ill, was not dead. He went off to hospital and lived for a few years after that.

I tried to deal with whatever emergency turned up when my husband was out and of course my training as a nurse was very useful. One day a patient came with a splinter at the top of her finger and begged me to pull it out. I could just see the tip of it so I got the tweezers and pulled and to my horror a piece of wood, much like a matchstick and at least an inch and ahalf long came out. It made me feel ill to look at it and I could not believe how brave the patient was. She did not even make a sound while I pulled it out.

My fourth child Malcolm was born in 1969 at Freedom Fields Hospital. I was hoping to have him at home but there were complications on the very last day and I had to go to hospital.

I got up in the middle of the night on one occasion to deal with a crying baby and went downstairs switching on the light. There was a ring at the door bell and there was the village policeman on his rounds. "Is everything alright?", he asked. "I saw the light on." I assured him that all was well and offered a cup of tea which he declined. "I must get off on the round," he said.

The policeman's house was in St Ive road and Mrs Rice's 7 year old twins were playing in the garden. They were the same age as Tony my second son. One of the twins rode his bicycle down the path and into the road and was knocked over by a car. He died in hospital that night. The next morning I was waiting for the Headmaster of the school to walk up School Road so that I could tell him the dreadful news before he got to school. It was a very sad time for the village for a long time.

My second son Tony was ahead of himself from the moment he was born. He crawled at 13 weeks and was talking very early in sentences. He was 2 years old when he sat in the bath and said "Mummy, where does a beam of light go when it enters the water?" I thought "Oh, my goodness!"

The summer that he was 2 in June we had mains drainage put in the village and a lot of digging around the surgery and one day in July the Sanitary Inspector came to look at the work that was going on and he got into intelligent conversation with Tony who was very interested in it all. He came to me and said "How old is that little boy?" and could hardly believe it when I said that he was just two years old. I tried to get him into school early because he so badly wanted to learn but I was told he was not eligible before his fifth birthday. I then gave him lessons at home every day which he loved. When he started at Pensilva school he stayed one year in the infants at 5, one year in the next class at 6 and at 7 was in the top class and at 8 years old he went to prep school in Tavistock where he worked with boys of his own age at his own pace.

When it came to my daughter, she was 6 years old and learning her tables which meant that we recited them at every meal time. We had got to 12 times tables and I was alone with Malcolm aged 2 and was thinking about curtain material and talking to myself. I said 12 times 8 and a little voice by my side said "96," I looked at him in astonishment and said "What did you say?" "96, 12 eights are 96." Without my realising it he had been learning the tables too.

At 3 years years old I went into his bedroom to wake him up one morning. He opened his eyes and looked at me and said "I was having a lovely dream," I said "That's nice, what was it about?" He looked at me in astonishment and said "Well you should know, you were in it."

I had the highest regard for Bernard. We had a large plot of land across the road, apart from the large garden at the back of the house and Bernard grew vegetables there. Every day throughout the year he would present me with vegetables that he had grown. In my first week in the house he came in with a load of onions and said "These are your picking onions, now is the time to pickle them." I had no idea what to do with them but I found out and duly pickled jars and jars of onions. But the next year I asked him not to grow them as we didn't really like pickled onions!

Bernard adored the children and was very patient with them. I always knew that they were safe when they were out in the garden with him and he would give them rides in the wheelbarrow and play with them. Sometimes on his summer holiday I would pack up a picnic and he would take all the children up on to Bodmin Moor and they would have a very nice time.

In October each year he looked forward to Goosey Fair in Tavistock. I think it was the highlight of his year and one year he came back with the biggest blue teddy bear that I have ever seen that he had won at the fair and he gave it to the children.

I would frequently cook a meal for him as he lived on his own and that continued after he retired. He became ill early one morning in 1980 and was taken to Passmore Edwards hospital in Liskeard and he died during the morning. I went to collect his suitcase and in it I found a birthday card that he had bought for my daughter's fifteenth birthday which was in a week's time. The children meant that much to him.

After his death I was told the story of how the doctor was trying to persuade him to lose a little weight and on the day that he was due to be weighed he went into the surgery and altered the scales so that he would weigh less. He had to creep back later when no one was looking to put the scales right.

I wished that I had discussed his childhood in Pensilva more than I did but one thing he told me was that on Sundays in the summer in his youth the children would dress in their best clothes and go up to the moor to the railway as the railway was not being used for transporting on that day and they would be taken to Looe on the train returning filthy at the end of the day having had a lovely time.

When we came to the village it was small and apart from Highfield Estate none of the other estates had been built but in a very short time there was building and the village grew and doubled in size and the surgery became too small with all the patients cards and the drug supply increasing so an extension, which became the dispensary, was built on to the side of the surgery and we had our first dispenser, Jenny Carew, who has only recently retired from The Health Centre. She was part-time at first and my life became slightly easier although I still had to answer all phone calls and the door bell. I could never take part in village activities because I was always on duty in the evening and at night as well. After a few years we also had a receptionist and I did not have to answer the phone during surgery hours. Instead I provided coffee and biscuits after morning surgery in my kitchen and home-made cake and tea in the afternoon. I dealt with all calls outside of surgery hours.

I started having driving lessons while I was expecting my fourth child when my daughter was 4 years old. My driving test was taking place in Bodmin so a fortnight before the test my instructor suggested that we drive to Bodmin so that I could get used to the test route. I had left my daughter in the care of Bernard. All the way to Bodmin I seemed to be finding it difficult to change gear and I decided that I was being extremely stupid that day! When we got to Bodmin I was told to stop at the bottom of a hill and the start off in 1st gear. I struggled to get into gear and then found that I was holding the gear lever in my hand. It had broken off with metal fatigue! What a relief, I had not been stupid after all. My instructor went off to get the car repaired while I rang home worried about it being Bernard's time to go home but he was happy to stay and look after Christine until I got back, which was about an hour late.

At about the same time there was the first measles vaccine. I had nursed the two boys through measles with no problems and was very doubtful about giving it to my daughter but my husband wanted to be able to tell his patients that his daughter had had it so it was all right for their children to have it. Reluctantly I agreed and she had it on the Thursday. The following Tuesday I was alone in the morning after morning surgery when the phone rang. It was the County Health Inspector. It will seem incredible now but then all vaccines were kept in the firdge in the kitchen, also perishable drugs. He asked me to go to the fridge and see if I had certain batch numnbers of measles vaccine. I did as he asked and came back and said that I had those batch numbers. He then told me to destroy it all immediately. I asked why and was told that he could only give the reason to the doctor. I then had an agonising 2 hours waiting for him to come home and find out the reason. It turned out that by mistake the vaccine contained live measles virus and two children had already died of complications from it. There was nothing we could do but wait and see what happened. A few days later I heard the measles cough and knew that we were in for it. A rash appeared and I nursed my daughter through an attack of measles although we were lucky and it was mild. Although I never heard of this happening again it left me very traumatised and I refused to let my youngest son have the vaccine. When he was 10 years old he caught measles and had it quite badly and I felt guilty that I had not allowed him to have the vaccine.

At Christmas 1963 we had a lot of snow which continued into the new year. The snow piled up and the village was cut off, nothing could get in or out. In January a baby boy was born at the top of the village, near the moor. He was slightly premature and should have been born in hospital but the ambulance could not get through. He needed a lot of care but survived and grew up to be a big strapping lad!

I will never forget Christmas 1969. There was a flu epidemic. The two older boys had been given the flu injection at school and they escaped it. The house was full of grandparents and an elderly aunt who had all come to have a lovely Christmas. On Christmas day my 4 year old daughter and 3 month old baby had flu and so did I. I had to carry on all day as normal but by the evening the baby had pneumonia. He was prescribed penicillin by mouth but was unable to keep it down. Baby reclining chairs were not around in this country then but I had been sent one by my sister in Canada so I propped him up in that and all through the night I put one drop in his mouth every 5 minutes and, thank goodness, by the morning he was a little better.

One day someone came to the door and asked if I would help to start up a branch of the Cancer Research Campaign in the village. I agreed to help but said that any meetings would have to be at my house because I could not go out. It duly started and to give my help to the campaign I acquired a knitting machine, by the standards of today with electronic knitting machines it was very primitive but I learnt to use it and soon started to knit garments that I sold for the Campaign. I would knit in every spare minute of the day and sew up in the evening, this had the unexpected result that I was able to meet people when they came to the door to choose colour, size and style of their jumper, not as patients but as friends. At one time just about all of the children in the village were wearing my jumpers and many of the adults as well and although I have nor been able to use a knitting machine for a few years because I have become allergic to something, probably a chemical in the yarn, I still occasionally see one of them being worn.

I had a severe shock one day. I had got my 2 youngest children ready for bed and they were downstairs in the living room in their pyjamas with me playing games and having a story read to them before they went to bed. Suddenly there was a man in the room. In those days we did not lock the doors like we do now and our doors were rarely locked in the day time and he just burst in. He was someone that I knew and was well known in the village. Being worried for the children I ushered him out of the room as quickly as I could and then discovered that he was in shock too. He had been at an event in the WI Hall and someone had suddenly died. There were no phones and he had come in a panic for the doctor who was not at home. I calmed him and myself down and rang for an ambulance and then went back to the children who were so used to strange events that they had not been affected at all by the drama!

It is now the 70s and the village is growing fast and the surgery is inadequate. Health Centres are starting to spring up so I tentatively suggested that our large field across the road could be used to build a Health Centre and this actuallty happened with the Health Centre opening in the mid 70s.

I was now relieved from answering the phone during surgery hours while the centre was open and no longer had to host coffee in the mornings and make and serve fresh cakes every day for tea but was still on phone duty all evening and night but by the 80s answering machines had been invented and after we obtained one, and with the children growing up I was able at last to take part in village activities and I joined The Carnival Group and The Community Centre Group and in time became the treasurer of both. I got to know so many people that it was like a breath of fresh air to me. I also joined an Angling Club in Plymouth with a club boat and loved my days out fishing at sea particularly when I came home with mackerel or my favourite Pollock.

After the Health Centre was built my youngest son, Malcolm, was at the age to go to Prep School at Mount House in Tavistock, 16 miles each way so for 2 years until he was 10 years old and became a boarder there I drove him there and home every morning and evening 6 days a week although he came home at lunch time on Saturday. School finished at 5pm. I enjoyed the journeys because at last I could go out. In the mornings on the journey we would recite mathematical tables until we knew them backwards then I taught him all the French that I could remember, which wasn't much so as he was learning the Greek alphabet at school he thought I should know it too and I would have to recite it until I got it right! I would leave home an hour early in the afternoon and read a book peacefully outside the school while I waited for him. Several times Matron came out and invited me in but I always declined because I liked my book reading time.

After Bernard retired I took on the job of growing vegetables on the remaining piece of land across the road, where the house is now built next to the Health Centre, and also the horrible job of cleaning the Aga flu, which was a beast. It took me hours each time and my arms were rubbed raw even though I tried to protect them.

Do you remember telegrams? I always associated them with bad news but just after Christmas 1978 there was a ring at the door and Bill Mitton who was running the Post Office handed me a telegram. I must have looked very worried because he said "It's not bad news" and when I opened it I found that it was from Cambridge University to say that Tony, my second son, had won a scholarship to Gonville and Caius College. That was he last telegram I ever saw.

I divorced my husband in the second part of ther 80s, it was a very sad time but I will never forget the kindness of the people of Pensilva to me at that time. Many of them I had only spoken to on the telephone but they gave me tremendous support. In time I was awarded the property in settlement. I was still living there and trying to look after the garden and the land across the road. My daughter, Christine, married in the autumn during this time and soon after the wedding she found me a beautiful, very tiny kitten that she had rescued, a half Persian grey and white kitten that I called Shandon, after a glass factory in Ireland. But that's another story, and I called her Shanny for short. She was so tiny that at first she went everywhere that I went, if it was up the road she came in a woolly hat snuggled up inside. If I went out in the car she came too with a litter tray in the well of the car. In the garden I taught her to come straight to me if I whistled and she did that all her life, the only exception being when she climbed this particular tree every day and squealed that she could not get down. She thought it was so exciting that I would go and get a ladder and lift her down each time.

It was winter and she was still a kitten who slept on my bed all night when one bitterly cold day when I had a lovely fire downstairs I decided for the first time ever to make a bed up downstairs by the fire and we were both asleep at midnight when there was the most enormous crash from upstairs and when I investigated I found that the ceiling had come down in my bedroom and we would have been underneath. It was an incredibly heavy ceiling of laths and plaster. What a miracle escape.

In her life Shanny had over 30 beautiful kittens and they all went to loving homes although I still have three of them now. Aged 19, 17 and 15.

After my divorce I applied to go on a Start Your Own Business course and I had machine knitting in mind because I had an electronic knitting machine by then and I was so pleased when I was accepted. The course lasted a fortnight and was held at a very nice hotel in Tiverton. It was very intensive but I enjoyed every minute. I met some very nice people from all over the country and felt that I had learnt a lot and mixing with people made me feel that I was coming back in the world after 25 years of staying at home.

I then started joining everything that I could. First of all it was the Cornwall Emergency Volunteers at their inception. I had a wonderful time with them. We were led by John Enever, who was the Emergency Planning Officer for Caradon. We had incredible training for all emergencies and we were completely included in all training exercises with all the emergency services. Each year we had a training day at RAF St Mawgan and were given admission to their air days so long as we came in uniform and were prepared to be on duty if there was an emergency. I will never forget our first exercise. It was held on Kit Hill and someone had fallen down the Quarry. The ambulance could not get near because of the terrain so our job was to take the patient by stretcher to the ambulance. To get the patient up from the quarry a member of the Mine Rescue Group abseiled over the top with a very brave member of St John's ambulance, who had never done it before and was very apprehensive. They were pulled up by the Mine Rescue Group along with a stretcher with the patient on it. The patient was then transferred to our stretcher. We had rehearsed it beforehand and with one member of the Cornwall Emergency Volunteers at each corner and with one in front to lead the way. We lifted the stretcher and then found that we were carrying a 20 stone man! On the way to the ambulance I really thought that I would die. In fact it would have been a relief to have done so! We learned a lot from that and ever after to carry a stretcher we had six of us with 2 in the middle, one either side and a strap going under the middle and held by the middle bearers.

On one exercise at St Mawgan a plane had crashed and there were many casualties. It was played for real with helicopters flying overhead and taking the "casualties" to Truro. One of our group was waving his hands in the air to attract another member when a helicopter thought he was signalling him and the helicopter came down and landed beside him. Red Faces! Later on the CEVs were put on crowd control and guarding the dead, the casualties having been removed. There were no crowds and the dead were playing dead and we got a bit bored. One of our group was Robin Doyle, the vicar of Rame Church at that time and he suggested and performed a service for the dead which we reverently took part in.

At the same time I joined The Royal Observer Corps. We met once a week at their post many feet underground in Liskeard. It was in preparation for Nuclear war when we would have been called up immediately and would have spent the duration at the post in a small bunker taking readings on radation levels and wind direction etc. We were in touch with HQ by radio. We had regular exercises and twice a year spent the weekend in the bunker doing 48 hour exercises.

I was still in the ROC when it was discontinued because the nuclear threat was over but in the meantime I had taken the Master test each year and passed with high marks.

I came onto the Parish Council and was on The Parish Pump Committee, and was also a member of the Parish Emergency Committee which also had to make plans for the event of a nuclear attack or disaster in the dockyards in Plymouth and cope with the evacuees that would come to the parish from Saltash and Plymouth.

At the same time I was a member of the Community Centre Group. The Chairman was always David Lockwood, who lived in the village. Our aim was to raise money to build a Community Centre in the village. A Community Centre of a reasonable size that would pay for itself and not be a drain on the rates. As far as I remember if we had £50,000 we would have got match funding and that would have been enough to build the Community Centre.

We set about raising the money with all sorts of events and it was a happy time in the village with a lot of community spirit as we got help to raise the money. We would go to David Tucker's farm in our wellies and shovel manure into bags all morning and then riding on the back of a farm cart we would drive round the village selling the manure for 50 pence a bag. That job needed a bath as soon as we got home.

We would have barn dances in barns that we had thoroughly cleaned beforehand, dish up delicious food and plenty of it and had discos which were much enjoyed, and car treasure hunts that always ended with a barbeque.

We actually got planning permission to build our Community Centre in the recreation field, where the car park for Millenium House is now but we would have had to put the road to it in from School Road and it would have been very expensive. To cut a long story very short the Lottery started and Marsh's garage was converted to Millenium House and we handed over the money that we had raised to the Parish Council to go in the Recreation field fund. We were registered with the Charity Commission and the money had to go to a local charity.

Whilst at school I had been a very keen Girl Guide and I was in fact one of the very first Queen's Guides. Over the years I would have liked to have taken a more active part in Guiding but was not able to do so. I was very pleased when I was asked to join a newly formed Trefoil Guild (for the most senior ex guides and brownies) and I still belong today.

I needed to think about the future. The house was much too large and had not been modernised in any way. One day looking at an aerial photo of the house and garden I realised that I had plenty of room to build by the side of the house that was then very overgrown. I needed to fund building there so I obtained outline planning permission to build on the land remaining across the road and sold it at auction. I was then able to get planning permission to build by the side of the house. I cleared all the land myself including cutting down several tree. The architect Peter Lloyd who lived in the village and was Chairman of the Parish Council for many years. He also maqde in his garage, from glass fibre the spire which is on St John's Church. The house was built and Shanny and I and my youngest son, Malcolm, who was at university then moved into it in 1992.

Slightly before that in 1989 I went back to Nursing. I had never meant to give up Nursing completely but it was 32 years since I had left Guy's Hospital before I went back and it was as Nigh Sister at a large new purpose built Nursing Home in Looe.

I was supposed to shadow another Sister for a few nights but she went off sick after the first night so I was thrown in at the deep end.

The patients were lovely and very appreciative because I am from the old school of nursing and can walk into a room and see immediately whether the patient is comfortable or needs their position or pillows moving and they liked that. When I came back after having a night off it was so nice to see how pleased they were to see me.

I was amazed at how much had changed over 32 years, everything was now disposable. We used to boil syringes and sharpen needles on night duty but now they are thrown away. Catheters were never left in permanently and before there were no catheter bags.

I was extremely impressed by the Care Assistants. They did everything for the patients that was not done by the trained staff. They were paid the minimum wage but the happy friendly care they gave was wonderful.

The drug round took an age and it was difficult to do a drug round and record it all on the computer and a night report on the computer as well as a report to the day staff and then get off duty by 8am after a 12 hour night but I was really pleased that I had the chance to go back to nursing and I spent 5 years on night duty doing 4 nights a week.

We are now well into the 90s and that brings this story to an end except to say that it pleases me so much that we have such a fantastic Health Centre in our village.

THE END

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