Ida Simpson, Trainee Midwife

The Mothers' Hospital
Interviewed by Toby Butler

Ida Violet Simpson was born in Nunhead, London on the 28 October 1926. She came from a fairly large family of girls, but in 1940, together with her younger sister, was evacuated to Paignton in South Devon. She went to South Devon Technical College in Torquay to complete her education by undertaking 2-years in Commercial Studies.

Anxious not to be left out of the 'excitement' of the activity of the Second World War, Ida, as soon as she was old enough, volunteered for Service. She was recruited into the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) where she completed basic training and on her first weekend of leave, celebrated her 18th birthday with her family in London. After a short posting to ATS Administration in Preston (Lancashire) Ida was reposted to Larkhill (Salisbury Plain) to serve in as shorthand typist in the Headquarters of a Royal Artillery Training Regiment.

In 1947, while on demobilisation leave, she returned home to London where she accepted a post as a secretary and shorthand typist in the London office of an American shipping company based in the City of London. After three years she decided that this kind of work was not fulfilling enough and left to work for the Salvation Army.

She began full-time training for officership where she was commissioned to undertake clerical duties at their Home for Unmarried Mothers and their Babies. Ida was introduced to nursing and, leaving this work, now at 27-years old, began her general nurse training to become a State Registered Nurse (SRN) at the Metropolitan Hospital, Kingsland Road, Hackney.

This was later followed by a further year’s training to become a State Certified Midwife (SCM) at the Mothers’ Hospital, Clapton. On completing this training she realised that midwifery was not for her and she returned to General Nursing 'I didn’t stay on to do midwifery' she says 'because I had decided that my real love was to nurse and help sick people and to pass on to junior nurses  the skills I had learned'.

Returning to 'The Met' as a Sister to work as an unqualified Nurse Teacher for a short period, Ida, was then offered a post as Ward Sister on Ben Jonson (male medical) ward at the neighbouring St Leonard’s Hospital and remained there from December 1959 until 1961. She she left to accept secondment to undertake further studies for the Sister Tutor Diploma (London University).

Now, as a Registered Nurse Tutor in 1963, Ida took her first post at the South London Hospital for Women, moving then to the Westminster Hospital, and later to St James’ (Balham). Promoted to become Principal Tutor here her work was then to introduce and establish nationally required changes in the education and training of nurses. Then in 1975 Ida moved (in yet another NHS Reorganisation) one more time to become Director of Nurse Education with the Croydon Health Authority. She retired from the NHS in March 1986 to make way for the introduction of entirely new systems of recruitment and training of student nurses in PROJECT 2000.

Although since retirement she has been a non-active Salvationist she has continued to keep busy serving on other various Committees in Worthing and still enjoys her work with her Local Ecumenical Church.

Below you can listen to extracts of Ida's interview.

Image accompanying MP3 audio clip: 'It was called faith' ( KB)

'It was called faith'

Ida speaks of what she was taught at the Salvation Army's Denmark Hill Training College, and subsequent posting to the Bristol Mother and Baby Home.

Mother and Baby Homes

Ida describes how she received her training as a Salvation Army officer before being sent to Bristol, working in the Mother and Baby Home, and trying to help the mothers to move on.

Being a nurse and Salvationist

Ida worked for a shipping company for three years before deciding to go full time with the Salvation Army as a social worker with "unmarried mothers" in Bristol, Cardiff and Cheltenham. She was 27 when she entered nursing.

Midwifery training at the Mothers' Hospital

Ida did her midwife training at the Mothers' Hospital, becoming a state certified midwife before moving on to general nursing.

Post natal exercises

Ida talks about the Mothers' Hospital and the regime. She and her colleagues had to demonstrate post natal exercises to the mothers, leading by example.

Photo:Midwife Training Certificate

Midwife Training Certificate

© Ida Simpson

This page was added by Lisa Rigg on 17/02/2010.

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