Retired Sudbury nursing sister receives visit from ex-students on her 100th birthday

Sister Hilda Durrant on her 100th birthday. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Sister Hilda Durrant on her 100th birthday. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

A retired nurse got a surprise on her 100th birthday when she was visited by four ex-students she had trained more than 50 years before at a Sudbury Hospital.

An aerial view of the new St Gregory's Place development at the former Walnuttree Hospital site in S

An aerial view of the new St Gregory's Place development at the former Walnuttree Hospital site in Sudbury Picture: PJ LIVESEY - Credit: Archant

Hilda Durrant, who was a sister at the former Walnuttree Hospital, trained student nurses Phyllis Felton, Janet Grey, Kate Bullard and Suzanne Richold in the 1960s.

The four ladies visited Mrs Durrant – also known as Sally – to celebrate her special day and reminisce about life at the hospital.

Mrs Felton, who published a book on the history of Walnuttee Hospital in 2006, said: “At the time the matron and all the senior staff had worked in the wartime military hospitals.

“It was in the time of starched aprons and caps, lining up for inspection before going on duty, and good conduct was expected at all times even away from the hospital.


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“Discipline was harsh but we student nurses had great respect for Sister Durrant and benefited from the help, guidance and good solid advice that she still gives.”

Mrs Durrant, who still lives independently at her home in Great Cornard, grew up in Bulmer, and often rode in her father’s horse and cart when he delivered provisions in the 1930s.

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She trained at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and nursed wounded soldiers at the 1,000-bed White Lodge Hospital at Newmarket in World War Two.

The centenarian joined staff at Walnuttree in 1955 when it was still shaking off the stigma of being a former workhouse and institution for the elderly and infirm.

By the time she retired in the 1980s, the NHS hospital had established a reputation for providing good and compassionate care.

The historic hospital building is being converted into 35 new homes - a mix of apartments and houses.

Specialist teams have been working on site all year and more than half the properties in the first phase of the development are already reserved.

The first residents are expected to move in by the end of the year and the development will complete next year. Prices start at £249,950 for a two-bedroom apartment.

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