Former nursing students swap 50 years of memories

00:00, Feb 05 2013
Class of 1963: Former Nelson Hospital nurses gathered on Saturday 50 years after they started their training.

A group of former Nelson nursing students have reunited at their old quarters to celebrate half a century since they started training.

Eighteen old girls from the Nelson Hospital Training School's class of 1963 gathered for lunch at Franklyn Village, formerly their nurses' home, on Saturday, bringing together a group of friends who live as far apart as London, Perth and Blenheim.

Also at the reunion were three of the students' senior staff.

The nurses had a full three-day weekend planned, including dinner at Seifried Estate, on top of plenty of good, long catchups and yarns.

Each of the now-retired nurses spent 3 years at the training school, which most of them joined at 17.

Reunion co-ordinator Helene Burke was just 16 when she started. "I was absolutely desperate to go nursing," she said. Mrs Burke described life as a student in Nelson in the sixties, reminiscing on what were the best days of her life.


"We lived under very strict rules in those days. We had 11pm curfews, and if you were on night duty you had to go to bed for the day, you couldn't go out and socialise.

"But rules can always be broken. We got very adept at climbing in through windows."

Mrs Burke's stories prove the students and the girls of 1963 were as cool, clever and cunning as any are these days.

"Chez Eelco was very new in those days and the cool place to be. We used to go down and drink coffee. Six of us bought an old 38 Pontiac and used to go driving into town, often in our ‘jarmies' or hair-rollers."