Yvonne Stephens: QEII Nurse and Community Midwife

Carolyn Shannon

The QEII hospital in 1963
Peter Brown (Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies, ref CNT/WH/11/1/2/8/40)

Starting at QEII

Yvonne Stephens moved to Hatfield in 1964 to complete the second part of her nursing training at the QEII in Welwyn Garden City. She chose to move to this area as her husband was working near Welham Green so the QEII was the closest NHS hospital for her to work at. She recalls taking the bus directly from home to work and into town. She didn’t even learn how to drive a car until much later in life as the bus was a very easy way to travel around town.

Living and Working

In her early years working at the QEII, Yvonne lived in the nursing dormitory despite being married. She explains that her matron preferred her to live on site rather then else where so she could keep an eye on her. At the time Mr. Stephens was living in Stoke Newington and catching the No. 6 bus to  Finsbury Park and commuting to Hatfield for work. Mr. Stephens worked for Mowlems (John Mowlems and Co. Ltd and associated Companies) who sent a bus to the train station to collect all their employees to travel to Welham Green for work.

Many other companies near by offered housing for their employees so his boss offered him a flat in Hatfield for him and Yvonne to share locally. Yvonne wasn’t that keen on moving to Hatfield at the time as she considered herself a city girl, having lived in London and to her Hatfield was very “country” at the time. They did eventually move to a one bedroom flat in Hatfield, across from where ASDA is and the flat is still there today.

Yvonne stayed on at the QEII working as a midwife and night sister for many years. She then began doing community work as mothers and babies started to be released from hospital within a 24-hour window, which is something Yvonne disagreed with especially for nursing mothers who needed extra support. She was the community midwife visiting mothers, babies and families. In the intimate setting of working within people’s homes she was able to refer those families who needed additional health care support to the correct health visitors. She worked in the community until 1997.

Remembering the Area

Mrs. Stephens remembers visiting Welwyn Garden City often for shopping enjoying her visits to John Lewis and Roche Products. She recalls Wilko’s being on the site of ASDA in Hatfield, but that it felt as if there were more things to do and shopping options available in Welwyn Garden City. She remembers the wealth divide between the East and West sides of Welwyn Garden City, when she would leave the QEII and go towards town she felt the poorer families lived in that area and then on the other side of the town centre the wealthier families lived. She recalls how she felt familiar with the local people who were mostly workingmen from London, so city families that she felt a kinship with, all of whom were “very good people.”

Yvonne remembers how wonderful Stanborough was with its pool on one side and all the green spaces. The pool then moved but the ponds were still there with the massive fish (carp) in the ponds. It was a lovely place to stroll and visit.

This interview between Darren Harte and Yvonne Stephens was conducted on March 18th, 2020 conducted in person at her home in Hatfield.

This page was added on 02/03/2021.

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