Letter: ‘I’m begging that we won’t forget closure of home’

The home was established in the 1930s when there was a need to provide a home for nurses after they had finished their career.

The land on which the home stands, was donated by the Misses Cooper Dean, two ladies who saw the need. In those days, the ladies who entered the nursing profession were unmarried and had dedicated the whole of their lives to the calling.

Read more: The Retired Nurses National Home announces shock closure

This they did willingly, and went on to serve in many varied branches of the profession. They, of course, earned very little so had no chance to save for their future.

I was appointed matron of The Retired Nurses National Home in Bournemouth in 1983, and went on to spend almost 14 years there. They were the happiest days of my working life.

The residents of the home were varied. Some had served in the armed forces, and had served this country in the world wars, and other conflicts around the globe, (and were decorated for this).

Others were matrons and sisters who ran hospitals, or served as district nurses in the community.

Others were missionaries, serving in diverse areas, giving up everything to dedicate their lives to this field.

The Retired Nurses National Home was a special place where the 60 plus residents were treated with love, and respect. They were happy there.

After 50 years, our golden year, we were honoured by a visit from Princess Margaret who spent several hours chatting with the residents, and staff, and then joined us for lunch. She showed great interest in all she heard about our work at the home.

The home was run by a dedicated voluntary committee who regularly came to the home to meet, and discuss any concerns with the residents.

Regular committee meetings were held, which I, as matron, attended. We were also supported by the League of Friends who joined in with the affairs of the home.

Residents had regular visits by a doctor, hairdresser, chiropodist, and church ministers. We had our own chapel which was put to regular use.

Residents also ran their own social club with coffee mornings, and handicrafts. It was the residents themselves who would come to me with their needs, or concerns.

My door was always open to them. They were never ‘backward in coming forward, and believe me, they did. After all, they had held positions of responsibility, and still had so much to teach us.

Nine years ago the home was gifted to the Friends of the Elderly. It was, by then, clear that things had changed, and the demand was no longer there for accommodation solely for retired nurses.

It was patently obvious to us, that with the building of the new Bournemouth Hospital, more land would be be needed, and the valuable site on which The Retired Nurses National Home stands would become a target.

My concern is that the retired nurses who lived here should not be forgotten. They were special, and deserve to be remembered so. We shall never see the like again.

This is part of Bournemouth history. I beg of you, do let it be forgotten. Our nurses, both past and present, deserve better than this.

Margaret White


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