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'I don't think we knew what we were taking on'

By Allan Preston

Some of the nearly 400 nurses given the freedom of Belfast in recognition of their work during the Troubles have spoken of their pride at the honour.

Lorraine Bell (59) now works in cardiac surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

"I think it's a real honour. I've seen victims through bombs and I've seen miracles. People who we thought would never survive walking out of the units and that's a great thrill."

Fiona Gray (59) began her training in Musgrave in 1975.

"We were 18 when we started nursing and it was the height of the Troubles. I don't think any of us understood what we were taking on, like all things in life, you get on with it."

Anita Glenn and Lynne Hamilton (both 63) trained in City Hospital in the 1970s.

"Some days were more traumatic than others. It's lovely to be acknowledged," Anita said.

Lynne called nursing in Belfast "humbling" and said while there was often the horror of bombs and guns, "there was also a bit of craic as well. Dark humour got us through".

Bernie McCrea worked in Whiteabbey Health Centre after training in the City Hospital.

She recounted one distressing experience in 1976 when she treated a man who had lost his legs and his brother in a bomb attack, while his father suffered a heart attack.

"I went up to see him," she recalled. "He said, 'You know nurse, I have lost my brother and my father had a heart attack and I lost my two legs, but you know nurse if that man who set the bomb came to the bottom of my bed tonight, I would forgive him'."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph