Memories of Grove Lodge when occupied by the Red Cross

Mention of Grove Lodge in the last Newsletter brought back memories to me. In 1948 I was a Red Cross Cadet and did voluntary duty there. At that time the Commandant was Mrs Blue when the house was a home for elderly ladies in need of full-time care.

The splendid building was as already described, for me the vision of the staircase stands out. I remember the coach house also at the back which had once held the coach and stabled the horse. By then it was an ambulance garage with the driver, Vic, living in the coachman’s flat above.

Hornsey Red Cross HQ, Grove Lodge, 1995
Hornsey Red Cross HQ, Grove Lodge, 1995
Grove Lodge Entrance after the Red Cross had left, 2011
Grove Lodge Entrance after the Red Cross had left, 2011

Having already done my basic physiology, first aid and nursing with the Wood Green detachment in the hut behind the library (River Side House today -ed.), I was considered qualified enough to assist a Sister and a nurse on Friday and Saturday night shifts. Little did I know at that time that I had learned valuable lessons which would stand me in good stead in later life; things which I think would not be allowed or even thought about today. Many ladies suffered venous ulcers and under the tuition of Sister Sheepy (a VAD from WW1) I learned roller bandaging with heavy crepe bandages. The tension was very important and this she tested with a thermometer case. It was pushed between the layers, too easy or too hard earned a clip on the back of my head with the nursing manual (as it was legs you were always kneeling).

There was a lady I will always remember by name, Miss Twinn; she was severely disabled with chronic rheumatoid arthritis and could barely use her hands. She had been a needlewoman at the Royal College of Embroidery and Needlework and had samples of her really delicate, beautiful work. I saw my first dead body assisting a nurse with ‘Last Offices’ and was taught in the fashion of the day that once someone died their name was never used, they became ‘the deceased’ which I was told was part of ‘not becoming involved’.

Many years later my wife developed rheumatoid arthritis and venous ulcers so I was able to draw on my youthful experience in dealing with the disabilities of RA. When she was prescribed a new special type of elastic bandage for her ulcer, (which had fallen off by the time she got home), I replaced it in the way I had learned 40+ years earlier. When she next went to the clinic, she told the doctor that her husband had redone the bandage as it had fallen off after an hour, only to be told that the nurses went on a special course to use it!  I was called in and asked where I had learned to bandage so ‘splendidly’. I said I had learned by the ‘clip on the back of the head’ method. From then on, I got the job of bandaging her leg.

I will always have fond memories of Grove Lodge. Not only for what I learned, as besides nursing it was the first time I was able to listen to Jack Jackson’s Record Round-Up, on Saturday night Radio Luxembourg.

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