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Former Leeds General Infirmary trainee nurses reunite after 55-years

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TEN former Leeds General Infirmary nurses had a lot of catching up to do when they met up for a 55-year reunion.

They recalled the highs and lows of being trainee nurses at LGI in the early 1960s, including two-years when they had to abide by a strict 10pm curfew at their nurses’ home.

55-year reunion of LGI nurses who first met in 1962. pictured at the Queens Hotel.'Back row from Left, Majorie Popplewell, Josephine Wadsworth, Sandra Dalby, Judith Newman, Anglea Barwick. Front row, Susan Roberts, Margaret Lacey, Carol Smith, Jennifer Pawson and Enda McCarthy.'2nd December 2017.'Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

55-year reunion of LGI nurses who first met in 1962. pictured at the Queens Hotel.'Back row from Left, Majorie Popplewell, Josephine Wadsworth, Sandra Dalby, Judith Newman, Anglea Barwick. Front row, Susan Roberts, Margaret Lacey, Carol Smith, Jennifer Pawson and Enda McCarthy.'2nd December 2017.'Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Former colleagues travelled from as far afield as London, Cromer in Norfolk, Ipswich and Blackpool to be at the Queens Hotel in Leeds for Saturday’s reunion.

Event organiser Carol Smith, 73, from Hull, was 18-years-old when she started her three-month preliminary nurse training course at a centre on Jackson Avenue, Roundhay, Leeds, in 1962.

She and her fellow trainees then spent two-years living in a nurses’ home in the grounds of LGI while having practical training at the hospital.

Mrs Smith said she hitch-hiked home to Hull and back once a week as she couldn’t afford public transport.

55-year reunion of LGI nurses who first met in 1962. pictured at the Queens Hotel. Collect photograph. Left to right, third along back row Jennifer Pawson.'Middle two Judith Newman, middle three Sandra Dalby, middle four Susan Roberts.'Front one Enda McCarthy, front two Angela Barwick, front three Margaret Lacey.'2nd December 2017.'Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

55-year reunion of LGI nurses who first met in 1962. pictured at the Queens Hotel. Collect photograph. Left to right, third along back row Jennifer Pawson.'Middle two Judith Newman, middle three Sandra Dalby, middle four Susan Roberts.'Front one Enda McCarthy, front two Angela Barwick, front three Margaret Lacey.'2nd December 2017.'Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

She said: “We had to be in by 10pm at night. We had one late night pass to 11pm once a month.”

Mrs Smith, who now lives in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, and works as a forensic nurse with City of London Police, said: “We had a laugh about the old days. Although it was tragic at times it was also fun.

“It was nice to reminisce on what really good training we had compared to what they get today.”

Mrs Smith said trainee nurses had to stick to strict rules, adding: “The length of your dress had to be so many inches from the ground and you had to wear black stockings with seams on the back and black regulation shoes.

“It was Dickensian really, but we had a good training. We knew how to look after and care for our patients properly.”

Mrs Smith said she believes modern nursing standards have slipped.

She said: “I’m afraid basic nursing care appears non-existent. “There are still some brilliant nurses out there but it’s the way they are being trained in universities.

“They haven’t been taught basic nursing care because they are not having enough practical instruction.”

Mrs Smith’s husband Jurgen died aged 62 in 2012. She has 10 children and step-children and eight grandchildren.

Mrs Smith has no plans to retire from nursing.

She said: “ I enjoy what I’m doing and still feel like I’ve got something to offer.”

Mrs Smith is hoping more former Leeds General Infirmary nurses will get in touch for the 60th event.

She is appealing for nurses who did their training at Leeds General Infirmary between 1962 and 1966 to get in touch.

She said: “The 55-year reunion was quite a milestone and I’m still hoping people we haven’t been able to contact might get in touch for our 60th reunion.”

Call Carol Smith on 07949 161015.