Nursing a patient who claimed he was a direct descendant of Ned Kelly is among the strongest memories of professional life for former nurse and Bolton Clarke Fairview, Pinjarra Hills residential aged care resident Beryl.
Born in the small Sunshine Coast town of Eumundi in 1928, Beryl grew up in Maleny and fondly remembers riding her horse Tony to school every day and living a “simple country lifestyle”.
She trained as a nurse at the Brisbane General Hospital in Herston (near where the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital stands today) and recalls a strict regime.
“It was starched uniforms, polished shoes, perfectly straightened caps and a Matron who was tough as nails,” she says.
“I can remember one day I was so nervous speaking to the Matron I kept playing with my hands – I couldn’t keep them from shaking.
“She told me very firmly, ‘You put your hands behind your back when you speak to me’. She was a very strict woman and we were all frightened of her.”
Beryl continued nursing until she started her family, returning to work as a private nurse at the old Corinda hospital when her youngest child turned 11.
“I worked in the operating theatre – it was a very different experience. The surgeon would put out his hand for a tool and you just had to know what he wanted,” she says.
“Sometimes if you handed them the wrong tool they would just throw it on the ground.
“I began working with a doctor who performed thyroid surgeries which was quite cutting edge at the time – not too many people were doing that. For the rest of the time we performed general surgeries, mainly appendectomies,”
Remembering her career on International Nurses Day, Beryl says she always found nursing to be exciting and enjoyed helping people.
“One of the most surreal things that happened to me was early in my career. I was in the men’s ward doing my rounds and one of the patients told me he was a direct descendant of Ned Kelly,” she says.
“I always wondered if it was true, but it was a great story!”