100 Years Of Alder Hey – Jean’s Story
Throughout our long history, millions of people have visited Alder Hey, including the United States Military during World War One. In this blog series to celebrate Alder Hey’s 100th birthday, we are taking regular trips down memory lane to share your stories of years gone by.
If you have memories or stories of your time at Alder Hey, we’d love to hear them. You can submit your story on our Centenary pages.
In her own words – this is Jean’s story
My connection with Alder Hey goes a long way back before I started work, and in fact if you link in the time that it became known as the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital Alder Hey , then you could go back as far as my own grandmother , who was admitted as a child with polio to the Myrtle Street branch of the Hospital. Long before the invention of the polio vaccine if you contracted polio it could be at the worst fatal, or you could be possibly paralysed, and have to spend your life in an iron lung. A slightly better outcome would be the loss of use or weakness in the legs. My grandmother was lucky and after treatment at the age of 3 which would have been around 1914 recovered.
Years later at the age of 7 I was admitted to Alder Hey with bronchopneumonia following measles. I was on E2 ward and remember a fair part of my time as an inpatient. I had to go to physiotherapy for postural drainage and remember being wrapped up warm in my dressing gown and a blanket and being pushed in a wheelchair along the open balcony (between the E/F and K/L blocks) to the physio department and back again. It was near Christmas time, and I recall the nurses painting pictures on the window of the wards to cheer the wards up. Although Matron on one of her rounds took offence at the picture painted on the window behind my bed, and on asking the Sister what it was, and being told it was a ‘candle’, replied in the best Matron fashion, ‘Nonsense, it is a sausage with a wick sticking out, clean it off, and get it done again!’ The poor nurse whose artwork it was duly complied and a more candle like picture was done.
Alder Hey has always long had a tradition as in many such places for the good and the great to pay a visit. When I was there just before Christmas the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress visited, and delivered toys and games to all us inpatients. I received a doll with handknitted dress, hat , coat, underwear and shoes, which I greatly treasured for a number of years.
Little did I know that in years to come I would be working not far from that ward. I first started work at the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital Myrtle Street in January 1978 as medical shorthand typist and enjoyed my job there. However , following marriage and a desire for promotion came to Alder Hey in August 1984 as a higher clerical officer in the Department of Child Health based on A3/C3 working for Professor Harris. A3/C3 were at that time the clinical part of the University Department, with the research being done in the Institute of Child Health which was based at the other end of Alder Hey by the Alder Road entrance.
However , with the changes to Children’s Health in Liverpool, plans were made for all the Children’s Services to be based in the one hospital, thus closing Myrtle Street. By December 1986 a brand new purpose built Institute of Child Health was completed courtesy of the Mersey Regional Health Authority. This was to allow the old Institute to be knocked down to allow a new Cardiac block with a PICU to be built to allow the services to be transferred from Myrtle Street. The new building was to house both the former Department and Institute of Child Health in one building with offices, library, conference room, lecture theatre and laboratories a state of the art building at the time! We all moved in over one week in autumn 1986.
I have continued to work based the Institute ever since, my role initially working for the Head of the Department – Professor Frank Harris, then briefly Professor David Lloyd and then Professor Richard Cooke. After Professor Cooke handed over to Professor Smyth, my role changed to that of the Undergraduate Administrator working with Dr Steve Ryan, Dr Andrew Bowhay, Dr Mark Dalzell and now Dr Gavin Cleary , who have all held the Clinical Sub Dean role, and have been supported by a number of wonderful people who have joined the Undergraduate team over the years – Tracey, Angela, Lesley and now Pauline.
In the intervening years I have had two children, Vicki and Andrew , who both attended the Rocking Horse Nursery at Alder Hey, and earlier this year my husband, Steve started as a volunteer one day a week following his retirement from nursing. So the family link continues!
I was very honoured last year to be nominated for ‘An unsung hero’ award in the Alder Hey Achievers award and then deeply humbled to be voted to receive the ‘People Choice Award’. That night in May will be one of my most treasured memories, and as I now celebrate some thirty years working at Alder Hey , I do wonder where the time has gone but can truly say that over the years I have worked with some ‘remarkable people’.