Bridget Mary Whitworth (nee Gallagher) an Irish Nurse.
My Mother Bridget Mary Whitworth nee Gallagher was born in Sligo Southern Ireland In 1938.
My Mother left her home in Ireland in the late 1950’s and was recruited internationally, like so many others due to a national shortage post World War II Britain into the newly created NHS.
She travelled to London and studied at Dulwich Hospital where she gained her SEN (State Enrolled Nurse) qualification
and was awarded the prize in her final year. Like many other fully qualified nurses she went on to pursue a career in Mental Nursing.
As a child I asked why she made this decision and she said the pay offered was better and there was also the offer of accommodation, which for her was a driving factor.
Arriving at Severalls in the late 1950’s she soon made lifelong friends with other Irish nurses.
Severalls had a chapel where Catholic nurses would regularly attend mass.
There was a strict code of conduct enforced by Matron which all the nurses adhered to,
a curfew was also in place on leaving and returning to the hospital, should they venture into town of an evening.
Severalls also offered all nurses socials and many events were held in the hall and the club as my Mother referred to it.
Suitable men were chosen by those in charge at Severalls to come and mix with the nurses at such occasions.
In 1961 RMP (Royal Military Police) from Cherry Tree camp came to one such event and this is where my Mother
met my Father, Roy Whitworth. Love blossomed and they were married three months later on 9th October 1961.
As was commonly expected at the time once married women gave up work. My parents went on to have three daughters, Suzanne, Carole and myself Patricia. My Mother later returned to Mental Health nursing in the late 1970’s when the family was all but raised, whereby she worked at Essex Hall, I remember her telling me that she came across some familiar faces from her time at Severalls.
Her compassion and care for others continued to shine in later life as she would make sandwiches for the homeless in Colchester.
My Mother sadly passed away on 2nd March 2005, but her memory will always live on in my heart.
My Mother’s memories inspired my History BA dissertation entitled
Gender, Migration and the Experience of Mental Health Nursing in Post-War England: A Case Study of Severalls Hospital in Colchester in the 1960’s.
For anyone wishing to access this is can be found as a donation to the following organisations;
Dissertation and oral history digital recordings, Colchester Museum Resource Centre.
Oral history digital recordings, Royal College of Nursing Archives in Edinburgh and the Essex Records Office in Chelmsford.
Bridget looking very smart in her Nurses Uniform
My mother was a nurse at Severalls Hospital in the late 1950's/1960's. On the photo you have of nurses coming out of the building,
she is the one at the front looking straight at the camera! I did a history degree as a mature student and graduated in 2010, I choose Severalls Hospital as my dissertation topic, looking at Nurses recruited from the empire and there experiences. I achieved this with some oral history recordings of nurses who worked their in the 1950's and 1960's. So little is known about Severalls apart from Diana Gittings book. I wanted dearly for their voices and experiences to be heard. I dedicated my dissertation to my Mother, who came as many did from Ireland to nurse. I pass by Severalls everyday on my way to work and it will always have a special place in my heart.
Bridget (second on the far left) in the early 1960's, outside the Main Entrance Block (Administration)
Patricia's Dissertation, which is dedicated to her Mother's time working at Severalls Hospital