Saturday, September 22, 2007

Valerie Brent, ex-nurse Craig-y-nos 1940's

Valerie Brent, author of “Life isn't all kiwi and oranges” her autobiography of her nursing career, which started as a teenager in Craig-y-nos in the 1940’s, was at The Welfare Hall again yesterday for the exhibition.

She travels up from Mumbles every Friday to sit in the Lesser Hall in order to talk to people, if they wish, who are visiting the exhibition. This ties in well with the weekly coffee morning run by Friends of the Welfare.

Asked if she had a good day she replied:”Marvellous!.. I met so many lovely people with stories to tell.”

Here are a few.
Glanville Jones was a 10 year old boy on the balcony in the 1940s. His cousin was not allowed to visit so he used to go up to Penwyllt station with binoculars or “spy glasses” as they were known as in those days.

Then he would wave to his cousin, Glanville, who also had a pair of binoculars.
That’s how they communicated all the time he was in Craig-y-nos.

(For those unfamiliar with the area Penwyllt station is opposite Craig-y-nos Castle. It’s here that Adelina Patti had a waiting room built for her many guests).

Another visitor yesterday was Richard Smallwood who was in the Glass Conservatory as a 11 year old in 1957.

He recalls the occasion a visitor brought in a banana and Sister Powell “went crazy” claiming the banana was indigestible and bad for children.
“She played pop!” said Richard.

Death was regular occurence at Craig-y-nos before the advent of drugs and staff could not help but become emotionally involved if it was a child or young person.
Valerie recalls how Nurse Glenys Davies was devastated by the death of 14 year old Loraine.

Valerie says:
“I remember Loraine. She was such a pretty girl with long dark hair. She had been given a bright blue suit and she decided to wear it to go to the Adelina Patti theatre to a concert. The patients liked to dress up.

But she died shortly afterwards. I helped Nurse Glenys Davies lay her out . She was very upset, I could tell.
She said:" I am not going to put her in the white gown," ( The long regulation white gown was the standard practise )
" I am going to bury Loraine in her new blue suit."
And that's what we did."

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