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Somerton age care resident’s generational connection to nursing

Kevin 17.jpeg

For Bolton Clarke Somerton aged care resident Kevin, his family’s nursing history, stems back to his mother’s vital nursing work during World War I in the trenches of France.

Sunday 12th May is International Nurses Day, celebrating the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth and the important positive impact nurses have on our community.

Kevin’s mother – who shares a name with the pioneering nurse - was one of the first female nurses to enter the trenches during battle to treat soldiers, beginning a long family linage of healthcare workers.

“My mother and father were both nurses, my two sisters were aged care workers, two of my children are nurses and another married a professor of medicine, and one of my granddaughters is a nurse and the other is studying to become a surgeon,” Kevin said.

“The nursing and medical interest in the family skipped me but with all those nurses in my family, I’ve learnt to do as I’m told!

“My mother, Florence Ivy Newman, was one of the first Englishwomen in the trenches during the Great War - she was F2 or Female Two which was second to the first female who was the Royal Princess.

“She used to tell me many stories about her time as a nurse - they used to roll themselves up in a sheet and sleep in the middle of the trench in the mud and at one time she went more than a month without a shower.”

Florence was awarded the Croix-Rouge medallion for her work - something Kevin says influenced his desire to enter the military.

“My mother won the Croix-Rouge, the French Red Cross which is their top medal apart from the Victorian Cross.

“I was 19 when I signed up and ever since I was very little I knew I wanted to become a soldier.

“I think my mother and father being in the war may have influenced my decision.

“Then World War II started when I was around four or five so I lived through it all.”

Kevin’s parents met in the trenches during World War I and his father would later reassign as a nurse.  

“After my father was sent home, he recovered and changed his name to go back again in World War II as a nurse, but he came home and was a bit messed up and left my mother with us eight children.

“There was no social security in those days - I don’t know how mum did it because she was a tiny lady all by herself.”

The family medals have remained in the family after being presented to Kevin’s oldest sister at his mother’s funeral, and the legacy of nursing has also stuck.

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