Old snap of Hartlepool nurses is prescription for happy memories

A mystery Mail photo of smiling Hartlepool nurses in the 1950s has brought back many happy memories for one reader.

Tuesday, 1st March 2016, 10:26 am
Updated Tuesday, 1st March 2016, 10:31 am
This group of Hartlepool nurses are all smile back in the 1950s.
This group of Hartlepool nurses are all smile back in the 1950s.

The shot of more than a dozen nurses featured two familiar faces for Molly Larkin - her mother’s best friend and a beloved aunt.

“I saw the photo on the Mail’s website after it appeared last week. It was lovely to see them both again,” said Molly, who is also a nurse.

Henry Smith's School and Hartlepool Hospital in the 1950s..

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“At the top right of the photo, in the back row, is Audrey Taylor (later Woore). She was from Wheatley Hill and my mum’s best friend.

“As a student nurse Audrey was, I understand, a natural leader. As part of her student nurse association she helped raise funds for the hospital.

“One of the star achievements was to commission and purchase a bronze figurine of Florence Nightingale.”

Florence was “proudly displayed” at St Hilda’s Hospital for several years; until accident and emergency services were transferred to Hartlepool General.

Henry Smith's School and Hartlepool Hospital in the 1950s..

The figurine was moved as well and, like many medical services, has since moved again - this time to a main concourse cabinet at North Tees Hospital.

“As time has passed, so many have forgotten the origins of that figurine,” said Molly.

“I would invite people to look for it and remember the faces of those pioneering Hartlepool-trained nurses, who looked to Florence as an aspiring leader.”

Audrey later moved to Scotland, where she held several senior nurse and manager posts. She passed away in 2012 - but is still fondly remembered by many.

“She certainly left her caring legacy on those cadet and student nurses who were fortunate to be taken under her wing; I was one of them,” said Molly.

Also featured in the old Mail picture is student nurse Mary Gray (later Stanton), who is standing in the second row from the bottom, second in from left.

“Sadly, Mary never qualified as a staff nurse, due to an accident which happened during her student training,” said Molly, who now lives in London.

“She was looking after an unconscious patient, who was being transferred from theatre at St Hilda’s, when the patient started rolling off the trolley.

“Mary caught the patient, who wasn’t harmed, but she sustained an irreversible back injury, She spent two years in plaster jackets and surgical appliances.”

Molly’s mother, also a nurse, helped care for her sister Mary after the accident. Unfortunately, Mary - then of Albion Terrace - never nursed again.

“This is the only photograph that I have seen of Mary in uniform. I never heard my aunt complain about the incident,” said Molly.

“She diverted her caring compassionate nature into bringing up her family and the hospitality industry after that - as the family ran a hotel.

“The NHS was so different in those days. Nurses had a day off a month and had to ask matron for permission to marry.”