Collecting Nursing History 41
Louisa Dorothy Noakes
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Louisa Dorothy Noakes, was born in the Cranbrook registration district in September1900, the first child of at least four children born to her father Richard a Carpenter and Joiner and her mother Louisa Noakes; in 1901and 1911 the family are living in Hawkhurst.1 Both parents had been married and or had had children before; on her father’s side Louisa had four half-siblings, one of whom George is possibly remembered on the Menin Gate, Ypres, having died in 1915 during WW1, and on her mother’s side an older half-brother.2
Louisa started her nurse
training in 1926, aged 26 as a Probationer Nurse at the Royal
Victoria Hospital Folkestone, which in 1923 had 70 beds, Matron, a
Night Superintendent, and 14 Probationers; ‘Examinations held yearly
and medal given’.3
An early picture of the
‘Victoria Hospital, before it became ‘Royal’ in 1910.Photo;
In 1929 Louisa was awarded
the First Prize Medal in the Hospital exams, she was State
Registered in March 1930 and one year later became Sister ENT and
Children’s ward. 4
First Prize Medal & Nurses badge for the Royal Victoria Hospital
The Borough coat of arms, as used on the Nurses badge above, here on a lamp post.
She remained Sister of Seager Ward, the Children’s ward for most of her career, leaving the RVH only twice- once for four months in 1941, which may coincide with her father’s death, in Battle in 1941, and in 1944 she became a pupil Housekeeper at University College Hospital for two months.5
WW2 the children’s ward was closed, releasing Louisa for duties
more directly related to the war; a newspaper reported that she was
‘Sister in charge of war casualties’ from 1939-1945 at the RVH,
during which time Folkestone, and the Hospital suffered from Bomb
damage.6 Folkestone was instrumental during WW2, and the
hospital too played an important role from the beginning; during the
evacuation of Dunkirk, ‘Hospital staff were on duty day and night
attending to the wounded soldiers who passed through the town’.7
In 1939 the hospital hit financial difficulties, when due to enemy
bombing on the town, three–quarters of the population left,
including many hospital contributor scheme members. and the
hospital’s administration was delegated to Kent County Council by
the Ministry of Health. On 19th September 1944 the
hospital was hit three times during a ten hour shelling, unusual in
that this was from France, across the Channel 22 miles away which
left one nurse dead in the nurses sitting room, along with a member
of the linen room staff killed in the basement linen room, and a
passing cyclist; ‘nine other staff were injured, three of them
seriously’.8 The hospital reopened after one week. On the
retirement of the Matron Miss Crowther, who had been in charge of
the RVH from 1941, it was said; ‘ Life was grim during WW2 in
Folkestone, but at the finish Matron was able to say , like the
London theatre, ‘ We never closed’.’19
A modern memorial of poppies, opposite Folkestone War Memorial
In April 1945 Louisa was
appointed Assistant Matron and Children’s ward Sister, a post which
she appears to have done until her retirement.9 Louisa’s
mother died in Folkestone in 1951.10 It is thought that
Louisa retired in 1955, after 29 years’ service; her Gold medal, is
inscribed from1927 to 1955; little else has been found out about her
life, apart from a picture of Louisa cutting a cake at a reunion in
1980, which was held in Folkestone for all the nurses who worked at
the RVH during the war.11
Louisa’s Service Award, Gold Medal, 1927-1955.
Louisa died ‘peacefully on
October 23rd 1983, in Folkestone’, and her ashes were
interred in Folkestone Parish Churchyard, ‘Dear sister of Di (decd.)
Lena and Ethel and a dear friend to many families.’, Louisa’s caring
was lifelong. 12
The Parish Church of St Mary
and St Eanswythe, Folkestone.
Louisa’s Medals in the Gold
Service award Oclee jewellers Box.
L: R; First Prize Medal, GNC badge, Folkestone Hospital Badge and Gold medal ’For Service’.
Little is known about this medal, there are none mentioned elsewhere in the press so far researched.
1929- L. D. Noakes
Gold Medal Recipients:
It is not known when this was awarded from and too, however, it was awarded by 1938, when the hospital administrator wrote what amounts to an advertisement for nursing in the Folkestone Herald, extolling the virtues of the RVH hospital training and nursing as a profession, ‘It is the custom here for the Hospital to award a gold medal to the ; Best Nurse of her year’ and this is a much coveted prize, creating keenness and efficiency’.17 Nurse training was ‘Evacuated inland’ during WW2, so it is thought that awards may have ‘slid’ during this time.13 Oclee, the Jewellers thought that as it is in their box it is likely that they supplied it, but no longer hold records.
1955; There was no recipient this year; ‘No Gold medal for the best nurse was awarded on Wednesday though one was purchased through the Matrons Christmas Comfort Fund. The Matron felt that none of the nursing staff had reached the very high standard. The medal will be awarded next year.’ 14
1955- Possible Retirement of Sister L Noakes; she appears to have been awarded the one which was not awarded in the previous October as a long service medal, or perhaps two were purchased, and only one was awarded.
1960- Staff Nurse O.O. Ighrakpata was awarded the ‘Folkestone Gold Medal’, which she is photographed wearing in the Folkestone and Hythe Herald, ‘The major award, the ‘ Folkestone’ Gold medal, procured by the townspeople through the Matron’s Christmas Fund, for the nurse giving the highest service in the hospital during the year to Staff Nurse Ojumarhuere Okporua Ighrakpata.’15
1973- SEN Mrs Diane Spencer received the award.
None had been awarded for the previous13 years, according to the Folkestone and Hythe Herald; ‘For the first time in 13 years the Folkestone gold medal, awarded only for outstanding achievement was presented to a nurse completing her training.’; Mrs Diane Spencer.16. It is thought that the Folkestone Gold medal was awarded at least from 1938- 1973, a period of at least 35 years, however given that one was not awarded in 1955, and also not from 1961-1972, that suggests that no more than 22 were awarded. However they may have been introduced earlier, taking over from the First Prize Medal awarded to Louisa in 1929, following the influence of the LCC Hospitals, which had awarded gold medals, along with silver and bronze to some nurses from as early as 1914.18
In 1960 a ‘runner-up’ prize was awarded; a silver buckle to Staff Nurse Wendy Holyer.
Due to a major
reorganisation of Health districts, and the new William Harvey
Hospital, opening in Ashford in 1974 it appears that nurse training
moved away at about this time.
William Harvey, after whom the new hospital was named, and who discovered blood, was born in Folkestone, near this building on 1st April 1578.
1. http://www.freebmd.org.uk, England Marriage Indexes, accessed 21st July 2014; Ancestry.com, The National Archives,1901 England Census RG13/ 777/40/ 22 and 1911 England Census RG14/4213/55, accessed 21st July 2014.
2. http://www.freebmd.org.uk, England Marriage Indexes, accessed 21st July 2014; Ancestry.com, TNA, 1901 England Census RG13/ 777/40/ 22 and 1911 England Census RG14/4213/55, accessed 21st July 2014.
3. H. Burdett, Editor ‘How to become a Nurse- The Nursing Profession, How and Where to Train’, 10th Edition, 1923.
4. Kent History Library Centre, Maidstone, MH/SEK6/AZ 2/2, Superannuation report, 5/7/1948.
5. KHLC, Maidstone, MH/SEK6/AZ 2/2, Superannuation report, 5/7/1948, Superannuation report; http://www.freebmd.org.uk England Death Indexes.
6. KHLC, Maidstone, MH/SEK6/AZ 2/2, Superannuation report, 5/7/1948; South Kent Gazette, ‘We’ll meet again…’ 11 June 1980.
7. M. Easdown, ‘ A Grand Old Lady, A History of the Royal Victoria Hospital, Folkestone, 1846-1996, Folkestone, 1996, p 39.
8. M. Easdown, ‘ A Grand Old Lady, A History of the Royal Victoria Hospital, Folkestone, 1846-1996, Folkestone, 1996, p 40.
9. KHLC, Maidstone, MH/SEK6/AZ 2/2, Superannuation report, 5/7/1948; KHLC, Maidstone, MH/SEK6/AZ 2/1, List of invitations and attendees of the Christmas Medical and Trained Staff Dinner, February 1954 and February 1955.
10. http://www.freebmd.org.uk, England Death Indexes, accessed 21st July 2014.
11. S K G, ‘We’ll meet again…’ 11 June 1980.
12. Folkestone and Hythe Herald, 28th October 1983, Deaths, p2.
13. M. Easdown, ‘ A Grand Old Lady, A History of the Royal Victoria Hospital, Folkestone, 1846-1996, Folkestone, 1996, p 40.
14. Folkestone and Hythe Herald, Saturday October 1st 1955, p2.
15. Folkestone and Hythe Herald, Saturday October 22nd 1960.
16. Folkestone Herald, 21st April 1973.
17. KHLC, Maidstone, MH/SEK6/AZ 2/2, Folkestone Herald, 11th June 1938.
18. http://www.schoolsofnursing.co.uk/Collections1/Collections36.htm, accessed 21st July 2014.
19. KHLC, Maidstone, MH/SEK6/AZ 2/2, Folkestone and Hythe Herald, October 22nd 1960.
Illustrations, Private Collection, Copyright owner.
Many thanks to all those who have helped, in particular Mark Kerr, Martin Easdown, Harry, and Will for uploading to SON.
Copyright, Sarah Rogers, 20th July 2014.
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