Newbury Residents Share Their Stories For International Nurses Day

Gracewell  |  June 8, 2018

As part of the International Nurses Day celebrations, the team at Gracewell of Newbury on London Road recently celebrated two very special residents, who had both enjoyed long careers as nurses.

Here, we share the stories of their careers, dedicated to helping people in need.

Joyce Prew (nee Baggs)

Joyce Prew, 102, is a resident at Gracewell of Newbury. She worked as a nurse for 50 years.

Joyce started her career at University College London Hospital in 1935, having previously worked at an Orthopedic Hospital in Somerset. In those days, it was much easier to get a job in nursing in London. Joyce spent 3 years there and qualified as a State Registered Nurse. Following receiving the qualification, Joyce stayed on in the Theatre there.

On the outbreak of World War Two, Joyce enlisted in the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nurses Reserve. She was then sent to Aden, formerly South Yemen. Joyce enjoyed the trip on the Acquarania, which took 6 weeks via Bombay, Ceylon and Cape Town. There were only 8 RAF Nurses on the ship, compared to the 200-300 RAF officers in other ranks. The nurses had their own room, and Joyce had a brilliant good time! In Aden, there was one English hospital with around 12 nurses working there.

Joyce got engaged to a Flying Officer but he got posted away, and he wasn’t a perfect match for Joyce. It was when Joyce met Richard Prew, that she found her perfect match. Joyce and Richard married on the 26th April 1941. Soon after finding out that she was pregnant, Joyce then returned back to the UK. Four children later and in 1953, Joyce returned to nursing at the London Chest Hospital near Hitchin, Bedfordshire. Her husband, Richard, was then posted to Chertsey, where Joyce worked in a mental health hospital as a Night Nurse.

From 1958-1966, Joyce and Richard ran a Sub Post Office and Village Grocery in Ascot. Towards the end of Joyce’s career in 1976, she worked as a Theatre Sister in a private hospital in Winsdor.

In 1981, Joyce finally retired after dedicating 50 years of her life to nursing – a career and memories which she continues to hold close to her heart today.

Mary Askew

Mary Askew, 87, is a resident at Gracewell of Newbury. She worked as a nurse for 39 years.

Mary started her nursing career in 1948. Mary graduated in 1953 and worked as a staff nurse until she began her midwifery training. Midwifery wasn’t her first love, so she went back to general training, as they had lots of homebirth, which melted her appetite for District work.

Mary started without a car and found walking to training hard, so one day she walked into the British Motoring Office and booked some driving lessons. Mary passed 1st time and in 1963 she bought her first car – a red mini.

Mary joined the Queen’s Institute of District Nurses (QIDN). She enjoyed her work, which was at times a very humbling experience, having to spend time in some very poor homes, supporting patients.

After working 21 years as a Queens Nurse, Mary was invited to London to be presented a medal by Princess Anne. The QIDN was eventually disbanded. 1980, Mary moved to Minehead, where she spent 7 years before she eventually retired in 1987.