Pauline & Maurine – Ages 75

“I worked as a nurse and midwife, specialising in premature births. I also spent a year working in Angola as a voluntary aide.” (Pauline)

‘I am learning all the time. I have done all sorts of things, the most traumatic being my nursing during the Bosnian War. My advice: Enjoy each day, you never know what’s round the corner!’ (Maurine)

I did nursing between 60 and 63, then went on to do midwifery, and then I did some baby specialism training in Bristol, and then came back here and worked as a nurse, then sister, and then I got married and had a daughter. When my daughter was 15 I became a health visitor and during that time I decided to do some voluntary aid work so I joined an Irish organisation called Go, as I’m part Irish and part Liverpudlian.

I spent a year in Angola as a voluntary aide. I loved nursing, I can honestly say I was one of them people that always loved nursing, every aspect I enjoyed. But I did enjoy midwifery because for the most part it was successful, you had a lovely baby at the end of the hard work the mum did. That’s why I specialised in premature babies because we did get poorly babies but I always thought it was a miracle that so many babies were born and so very few of them were in any way damaged. When I started nursing it was a vocation, you lived in, it was a big family, you had to be in by a certain time and were looked after by the sister.

We did more than you should in hours but it was all part of the home and you wanted to be part of it. Christmas was good in wards, we always did pantomime and shows and things. We used to go round in our capes carol singing with our lanterns. If you’ve ever seen any of the old films, it gives you more of an idea of how nursing was in those days. I wouldn’t know what to advise new nurses today. They do it all through a University course so they have a lot of knowledge but with my training it was bed pans, scrubbing beds, but you got to know the patients. You did all the dirty chores but you didn’t mind.

We’d do shopping for the patients or if someone was upset we comforted her… we got more involved with patients than you do now. I think although nursing is different to in my day, if you go into it wanting to care for people and wanting to give of yourself to people then that’s the best advice I can think of. I used to have a hobby that I loved, I was a rock and roll dancer. I did rock and roll dancing with others on the Brighton stage, but I had a very good partner that made me look good. The thing I used to do like reading I can’t do because of my eyes so I like meeting up with friends, getting involved with my grandchildren, going to clubs. For nursing you really have to give of yourself.

Most of the time I don’t feel as though I’m 75, I keep myself very busy. I’ve got 3 grown up children and 6 grandchildren of various ages. I started off my working life as a shorthand typist and I wasn’t very good at it, I didn’t like it.

When my children were at school I trained as a nurse. I started out as a registered nurse, working in various hospitals and eventually I ended working in Bosnia, Herzegovina, during the war. I stayed for 4 years, coming home for perhaps 2 months or so to raise funds before going out again. It was a war situation there and then after the war. I worked in the Royal Marsden Hospital where everyone had some form of cancer, I worked on the children’s ward there which was very difficult.

When I was in Bosnia stands out because it was very traumatic at times but there were people we helped there who are still my friends and we’re still welcome there. I think being an aid worker stands out more to me now. My advice would be to keep learning all the time. Whatever you start as doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll finish up doing. Keep your options open and keep working. I go to auctions, I buy old vintage postcards, mainly of Sussex, and I sell them on ebay. It’s quite lucrative I would say. It’s very interesting, I like the old postcards with messages on the back, they’re mostly over 100 years old.

There’s loads to do in Brighton: things to join, see. It’s such a vibrant city. Enjoy each day, you never know what’s around the corner.