Cottage hospital reunion reminder

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A CALL has gone out to any staff who worked at the old Kelso Cottage Hospital to contact organisers of a planned reunion if they have not yet received an invitation to what promises to be a very special event scheduled for the end of May, writes Mark Entwistle.

The hospital opened its doors to patients in 1908 and went on to serve the local community for the following 94 years before closing down in 1992.

Although now turned into housing, the hospital still features large in the careers of many in the Kelso area. One of those is retired local GP, Dr Grant Mooney, from the town’s Pinnaclehill.

Dr Mooney explained about the gathering, saying: “There is to be a reunion of all former staff amounting to some 120 if all can be contacted and turn up. It will take the form of a finger buffet in the Cross Keys Hotel, Kelso, on the evening of Friday May 20.”

Although invitations will have started dropping through the letterboxes of those whose addresses were known, Dr Mooney and the other organisers are well aware there maybe ex-staff members not on their contact lists and it is these people they want to hear from if they are interested in attending the event.

One of those helping to organise the reunion is former cottage hospital sister midwife Alison Brunton, who joined the staff of the cottage hospital as a trainee nurse at the birth of the National Health Service in 1948.

She says the reunion will be the perfect way to meet up and remember old times, and to recognise the service that the cottage hospital provided for the community.

“We had happy times and sad times during our working days and nights while we were at the cottage hospital,” she told TheSouthern.

“The cottage hospital grew out of the Dispensary in Roxburgh Street, which had been founded in 1777 with money donated by Mrs Baillie of Jerviswood and Mellerstain. The dispensary closed in 1906 when the cottage hospital was opened at Maxwellheugh.

“The cottage hospital was one of the first, if not the first, cottage hospitals in Scotland.”

A portrait of Mrs Baillie still hangs in the community hospital in Inch Road, Kelso, along with a large wall plaque listing the names of many associated with the cottage hospital.

Fellow hospital sister midwife Jenny Bell says it was Dr Mooney’s idea to organise a reunion.

“Dr Mooney asked Alison, myself and a few others to rake through our memories and see if we could come up with the names of some of those he might have missed off the invite list,” she explained.

Both women say they enoyed their time at the hospital, although admitted it had been hard work.

Mrs Brunton, who trained with Mrs Bell at the former Peel Hospital near Galashiels, told us: “We used to help out after school with the laundry at the cottage hospital and started our training at the same time as the NHS was founded.

“The cottage hospital did a lot of good work for the community over the years and it is remembered with a lot of affection by, not just those who worked there, but many who were patients too.”

Any former members of staff who have not received an invitation to the reunion and would like to attend are asked to contact Dr Mooney on 01573 224900, Mrs Brunton on 01573 223262 or Mrs Bell on 01573 223163.