Nurses turn back the clock

Participants in a Dunedin nursing class of 1969 reunion (front row, from left) Pam Nichols, of Dunedin, Rosemary McLaughlin (nee Bennett), of Rangiora, Linda Kinniburgh (nee Donaldson), of Dunedin, and Marg Eckhoff (nee Falconer), of Alexandra; (second row) Sue Hore (nee Lake), of Patearoa, Rosie Hewson (nee Hockin), of West Australia, Averil Thomson, of Waitati, and Jenny Lynch (nee Dagg), of Arrowtown; (third row) Barbara Burgess (nee Welsh), of Twizel, Beverly Haley (nee Eason), of Wanaka, Bev Burrell, of Christchurch, and Trish Morris (nee Meehan), of Alexandra; (fourth row) Margaret Martyn (nee Kirk), of Gore, and Elinor Barker (nee Thomson), of Auckland; (fifth row) Philippa Cunningham, of Auckland, Robyn Smith (nee Jordan), of Dunedin, and Lynne Nottle, of Rotorua; (sixth row) Trish Soper, of Tasmania, Philippa Pilling, of Mosgiel, and Ellie O'Donnell (nee Irwin), of Motueka.

Memories of the challenging life of trainee nurses came flooding back when members of the Dunedin nursing class of 1969 celebrated their 50th anniversary at the weekend.

When most of the 23 reunion participants gathered for a group photograph at the Dunedin Hospital complex on Saturday, they were delighted to see each other again, in some cases for the first time in 50 years.

Reunion participants were among the 49-strong nursing intake of 1969, and some had returned from as far afield as Australia and Auckland.

About 10 members of the reunion group are still nursing, and others, including Auckland district court judge Philippa Cunningham, have also gained high success in other fields.

In 1969, nursing training was of the intense, on-the-job variety and trainee nurses were required to spend two years of their three-year course living under strict controls, usually at the main hospital nursing home, now Cumberland House.

Males were not permitted inside and when one trainee arrived to start her course, her father was not allowed to carry her suitcase into the building.

One of the reunion organisers, Pam Nichols, who still works full-time at Dunedin Hospital, said when the 17-year-old trainees began they received $23 a week, in cash in a brown envelope, after $8 was deducted for board.

They worked at least eight hours a day, six days a week.

Mrs Nichols said the four reunion organisers were 'very, very happy" with the event.

It had been an 'absolutely amazing" success, and people had greatly enjoyed catching up with people they had not seen for many years.


Add a Comment