The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Memories of old nurses home live on

28 August 2020

It’s amazing how many former nurses have come forward with their stories about their time in the old nurses’ home at Leeds General Infirmary.

The old building will be one of the first to be demolished over the coming weeks as we prepare to start work on the Hospitals of the Future project.

We’re pleased to have captured some of those stories before the building is lost forever, and we have filmed the accounts of some of those nurses who lived there in the 1950s, 60s and 70s while they did their nurse training.

One nurse, Linda Dakin (nee Brown), recounted how she met her husband John at a dance in the main hall at the nurses’ home – and they have now been married for 47 years.

Linda’s daughter, Lucy Leese, followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a nurse and she currently works at Leeds General Infirmary as a cardiac research nurse.  Both mother and daughter visited the old nurses home together for a final look, and the contrast in training for the two couldn’t have been more different.  Follow Linda’s story here.

Yorkshire TV also captured Linda’s story which you can watch  here.

Ninety-year-old Jeanne Cooper started her nurse training in 1947 before the NHS even existed.  She recalls the shock of leaving home at 17 from Filey and moving to the “big city” of Leeds – a daunting prospect in itself for one so young.

It was a time when you had to live in the nurses’ home for two years and Jeanne recalls having to get permission from the matron if you wanted to live outside after that.  “She was like a stand-in “mother”,” said Jeanne.  Follow Jeanne’s story here.

Another nurse, Edwina Gerry, remembers with pride how she was awarded the Eva Moynihan gold medal for excellence in nursing practice – a prestigious award.   “Life felt safe and we were full of anticipation and expectation for the future.  I'm sure our parents were pleased that there was a certain level of care and support for us.” Follow Edwina’s story here.

Sandy Dalby (nee Hargreaves) also met her future husband Michael while at the old nurses’ home and recalls having to get matron’s permission to get engaged.  “It was because I hadn’t finished my training as she had to be assured from him that I would complete the course,” said Sandy. “It was like getting a second opinion after being given my parents blessings.”  Follow Sandy’s story here.

Patricia Taylor lived in the nurses’ home when she did her nurse training between 1961 and 1964 and although she had many happy memories of being there she said it was almost like being in a boarding school.  She said: “One thing I do recall is that there was also a “Beau Parlour” for boyfriends to visit - as long as the door was left open!”  Follow Pat’s story here.

Judith Sugden began her nurse training in January 1968 and coming to Leeds from rural North Yorkshire - where she had been brought up on a farm near Malton - was a totally different experience.   She recalls having to be in bed by 10.30pm with the sisters patrolling the corridors to see if there was any talking in the rooms.  “All men had to wait in the Nurses Home Entrance Hall and were not allowed beyond even if it was your father or brother,” she said.  Follow Judith’s story here.