The District Nurse

With no doctors in the countryside and no National Health Service, the district nurse played a vital role in village communities. The 1871 census lists a nurse, Mary Hendy, aged 55 and living in Brook. Until the NHS was established in 1948, Nurse Rann was funded by the Seely family for 27 years. Most people of 60 years and over, and who grew up in the area, remember Nurse Rann.

She lived in one half of the cottage next to the school in Hulverstone (Garden Cottage). For many years she travelled to her patients’ homes on a bicycle with a basket on the front to carry her black medecine bag. Later she had a Vespa scooter and then was the first person in the village to own a car, a Morris 8 bought for her by General Seely.

 

 

 

Audrey Rann (no relation), who lived next to the Post Office in Hulverstone fell over one washday.  Having dropped her big rag doll down some steps she hit her head on the ground and Nurse Rann came over the road and put iodine on the cut. It must have been a bad one because at 80 Audrey still has the scar to prove it.

Nurse Rann was also the school nurse, and regularly went into Hulverstone and Brighstone Schools to check for head lice and other common childhood ailments. Few babies were born within a 7 mile radius, between the early 1920s and the late 1940s, who were not delivered by her. No one knew her by any other name, and even her niece remembers calling her ‘Nurse Rann’ and cannot remember her having any other name.

When the newspaper lists her presence at a funeral she is simply ‘Nurse Rann.’ She was still working at the birth of the National Health Service in July 1948 and Nurse Rann appears to have been needed, loved and respected by all who who knew her.