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In those days you didn't need special qualifications: I had seven school certificates (similar to GCSEs), some girls didn't have any. We spent eight weeks in training school studying anatomy, physiology, hygiene and the theory of nursing.I loved it and still have three of my original notebooks.My starting salary was £4 a month (equivalent to an annual wage of £19,000 today); when I qualified, it went up to £9.We would queue outside Matron's office for our wages and money could be deducted if we'd broken a thermometer. One was allergic to Dettol (in those days that was the only antiseptic), one had scarlet fever, another moved to London and the fourth got married.Now aged 81 and a widow with three grandchildren, she says: On my first day I had to report to the nurses' home at 4pm.It was a misty January afternoon and a stern maid answered the door and ushered me in.We wore a short-sleeved dress, stiff starched apron, starched hat, black stockings and black laced shoes. I loved the uniform, but the starched apron took a bit of getting used to. One of the doctors at the Radcliffe had developed an early form of ventilator.

' I was shown to my room and on the bed was my uniform - a blue and white striped dress, stiff white collar, starched white apron and detachable starched white 'sleeves'.I remember looking in the mirror and thinking I looked like a real nurse - I felt excited but a bit apprehensive.I'd wanted to work in a hospital for as long as I could remember.It demanded commitment and anti-social shifts, so most women from my generation who stuck with the job, like me, remained single.It was not until later that nurses who married were allowed to stay in the job. My mother tried to talk me out of it because she thought the profession was lowly, but I miss it to this day. I have been a patient since and have noticed a difference in nurses.

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There was a great sense of companionship, which made up for all the restrictions of living in. That left three of us - two moved to New Zealand and I'm still in touch with one. We were particular about cleanliness, and, as well as daily duties, every Wednesday we had a thorough clean: moving the beds (19 in a ward) and lockers into the middle of the ward, emptying every locker, cleaning inside, then putting it all back. Patients used to stay in bed ten days after routine operations; today they're out the next day. We used to allow just two visitors per bed and only between 3pm and 4pm on Wednesdays and at weekends.

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