Having completed her nursing training, at Charing Cross Hospital…back in the days when it actually was at Charing Cross, just across the road from the London railway terminus, Judy Pemberton worked , for the year 1952-1953 , at the Cheyne Hospital for Children , looking after, and loving a number of children hospitalised with incurable spinal and hip conditions, and some suffering from rickets. One very dear child died, and this had a profound effect on her, making her pause and review her life.
Judy is seen here on the far left, proudly wearing her nursing starched white cap. Two other nurses are to be seen on the right, one in a frilled cap; probably a Sister; with Matron on the far right in her cap with its chin strap. This is a local newspaper photo of little Mickey Spearey proudly receiving his Cub-scout cap and a proficiency badge…no mean feat when you are bedridden.
Cheyne Hospital began in 1875 in London, but re-located to Sevenoaks in Kent at the beginning of the war.
Judy then decided to become a District Midwife , and went to do her training at the Mothers’ Hospital in Clapton, London E.5. It was run by the Salvation Army, originally for unmarried mothers. This was at a time when childbirth out of wedlock carried a dreadful stigma of shame to the family, and girls were often cast out to take their chances. Later, the social conventions eased somewhat, and married women were also able to use the expert services at the Hospital. It remained open until 1986, when it became assimilated by other medical services and ceased to exist as a separate entity. The building is now flats.
Two pictures from Judy’s time at the Mothers’ Hospital. And the one below, just discovered in an old box of archives, shows her proudly holding ‘Gillian’, six hours old. I estimate this to have been taken around 1960. Unfortunately, we do not have Gillian’s surname. I wonder where she is now ?
Upon completion of the midwifery training she now became S.R.N; SCM. : State Registered Nurse; State Certified Midwife, and received her badge of office, which appears on her hat in pictures of her in uniform from this time. This actual hat was hers… navy blue; ..quite familiar to watchers of ‘ Call the Midwife ‘. She chose to go ‘on the District’ rather than be working in a hospital ward.
She was assigned to the District of Bromley and Beckenham, in Kent which was attached to Farnborough(Kent) Hospital for midwifery purposes. She was given a Council House, for which she paid a modest rent. Being a Council employee, she probably had it subsidised a bit. This was in about 1960 At first, she was expected to get around her territory on a bicycle, but as it is an extremely hilly patch, and she was far from athletic, this was not in her view, a good idea. It was not long before a trusty Morris Minor became her mode of transport,; giving her speed of getting around and protection from the weather. Also, as babies seem to be programmed to arrive at night, the car gave her a welcome sense of security, particularly in the rougher parts of the area.
During the time she was a midwife, there were various changes to the uniform, and her three hats are all in the collection. There is not a huge difference between the designs; but the first one, the navy blue one, will be familiar to those of you who watch ‘Call the Midwife’ as mentioned earlier.
Judy delivered babies to all types of women; from the very poshest who lived in huge houses, to the Gypsy women living in caravans, who often used a drawer as a cradle for the new baby. The Gypsy mothers were mainly very clean, but some of the poorer homes she went into were absolutely filthy, and she wondered how the baby would survive.
The grey ‘pillbox’ hat is the one she wore from about 1979 until her retirement in 2000. By the time she did actually retire, she was delivering babies to the babies she had originally delivered.
Judy never married, but spent 43 years of her life ministering to others and praising God as she did so.
She was my sister.