Teenagers’ first foray into nursing

The students on the Pre-Nursing course at Northumberland College in 1963.
The students on the Pre-Nursing course at Northumberland College in 1963.

A group of retired health practitioners are looking for their old classmates to join their 50-year reunion and celebrate the half-century since they met on the Pre-Nursing course at Northumberland College in 1963.

The group enrolled at the college when they were 15 years old and many went on to forge successful careers becoming senior sisters, nurse practitioners, midwives, midwifery managers, health visitors and tutors. The only male on the course, Alan Pearson, moved to Australia to become Professor of Nursing La Trobe University in Victoria.

The class reunions started in 1990 and were held at various restaurants every November. For the group’s 40th anniversary in 2003, the group decided to meet where they had first met all those years ago at the college’s Wansbeck Restaurant and have met there every year since.

Maggie Pringle, nee Picton, who is organising the reunion, completed her nurse training at Newcastle General Hospital and worked her way up to senior night sister and nurse practitioner at Ashington Hospital. Maggie said: “There are twelve of us who are still in touch, but because it is 50 years since we started the course we wanted to try and contact more of our old classmates to make it even more special. It would be fantastic to see some old faces and find out what path their lives took. We chose the course as we were from secondary modern schools and needed O-Levels to get into nurse training. Ashington Technical College, as it used to be known, was the only place in Northumberland to provide this course plus it was on a convenient bus route. The course provided us with the qualifications we needed and it was a valuable transition from school to a working life. Not least it has given us friendships that have lasted 50 years.” Maggie speaks fondly of her time at the college and recalls her favourite memories as: “The social life and the coffee bar; listening to music; the rounds of silly jokes; backcombing our hair and wearing makeup, after all many of us had went to all girls schools and there were boys around now!” The reunion will take place in November at the Wansbeck Restaurant at the Ashington Campus, College Road. Former classmates who would like to get in touch can email Maggie at alanmaggie@hotmail.com