Jessie started her Nursing career on Monday March 5th 1943 at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. She worked at Malvern Convalescent Home for children for 2 months and then into the hospital for three months. She was on probation for 3 months and passed her entrance exam. She stayed at Birmingham Children’s Hospital for three years.
From 1946-1953 Jessie worked at University College Hospital, London. She was asked to become a Sister and worked as a Registered Sick Children’s Nurse. She then became a State Registered Nurse, and again was asked to become a Sister after 2 years. It was during this time that Jesse realised she wanted to be a Midwife.
She moved to Edgeware, on the outskirts of London to the General Hospital, she spent 3 months in the hospital and 3 months on the District, and then became a Midwife. Again she was made a Sister at the Edgware Hospital and then decided to study for Midwifery Teachers Diploma – enabling her to teach pupil Midwives.
Jessie then moved to Pennce in Cornwall, near St Austell. She was asked to become the Matron in charge of the new Pennce Maternity Unit run by General Practitioners. She also took pupil Midwives who came from all over the country. Treliske Hospital was built while she was there and a real baby boom took place, she remembers well, going out with a colleague to buy new beds for the babies as they didn’t have enough beds to sleep them all!
Then there was a shortage of babies following the boom and Jessie then moved to Treliske hospital and was the Sister in charge of the special Care Baby Unit. It was during this time that she became 60 years of age and had to retire. She was not even allowed to work on her birthday, which was a Friday but her last day of working was the Thursday!
Jessie and her lifelong friend and companion Marjorie went on holiday to Scotland, by train, they were going to visit Marjorie’s brother brother Douglas, in Chagford on the way back home. It was then that they decided they would like to live in Devon as it would not be so far for relatives to travel when they came to visit them. Jessie was especially close to her brother, Allen, who regularly visited her. They moved to Bishopsteignton, buying a bungalow there in 1984.
In 1983 Jessie was asked to attend a Midwifery Conference Geneva, along with many Midwives from all over the British Isles.. On the train on the journey back home Jessie and another lady began talking- this lady had also attended the International Congress in Geneva. She was a Midwife in Plymouth and a member of Soroptimist International. When Jessie was back home in Pennce she was approached by members of St Austell Soroptimist Club which had been formed the previous year. She was asked to join which she duly did. Obviously the lady she had met on the train had arranged all of this but Jessie didn’t even know her name! A true Soroptimist friend, seeking to enhance a fellow woman’s life and attract like-minded women to join our movement.
Jessie thoroughly enjoyed being a member of St Austell Club she has many happy memories of the fun and friendship they shared together, especially during the Summer Months taking part on Floats in Carnivals, and all manner manner of fundraising. The men were called Soroptimisters and even had their own tie designed! They had their own Club and also had great fun together.
In 1984, Jessie transferred from St Austell Club to Torquay Club. She did consider joining Exeter Club but was advised by a Headmistress friend to join Torbay, for which we as a Club are very grateful. Jessie still has many friends in St Austell Club and always enjoys seeing them again at our Regional Meetings. She hopes to visit St Austell again in February 2018 for their Annual Dinner.
Over the years Jessie has always been a very active member of Torquay S.I. She has attended Conferences, Dinners, and done much work for the Children’s Hospice South West Some of her wonderful Needlework is hanging on the walls of Little Bridges House. Jessie supports CHSW and they have Coffee Mornings at Royal Court, Teignmouth, Jessie’s home in aid of CHSW and Rowcroft Hospice.
Jessie’s life- long friend Marjorie always supported Jessie with her Soroptimist activities, attending Dinners, Friendship Weekends, Treasure Hunts, Jasmine’s Summer Garden Parties, Retired members groups, whatever, they made a wonderful team.
At 94 Jessie is amazing, full of fun and always ready for a challenge. A rock of common sense, and true salt of the earth woman. She helped to bring the little ones into the world and Marjorie helped to make her life better and easier for our older patients specialising in Geriatric care- what a combination. We applaud you Jessie for your lifelong contribution to nursing poorly children and helping mum’s to be to bring their babies into the world. Thank you for choosing Torquay Club and for your loyalty, fun and friendship over so many years.