Helen Gibson (formerly Ravenscroft) of Tregeagle spent most of her working life as a nurse at Lismore Base hospital.
Helen Gibson (formerly Ravenscroft) of Tregeagle spent most of her working life as a nurse at Lismore Base hospital. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Nurse retires after devoting half-a-century to Lismore Base

AFTER spending almost 50 years as a Lismore nurse Tregeagle's Helen Gibson could tell you many stories from inside the walls of the hospitals.

It was May 1965 when a 17-year-old Miss Ravenscroft, as she was then began her nursing training - four years training and living in the nurse's quarters at Lismore Base Hospital.

Since then she's worked many different roles as a nurse - as a theatre sister, a night duty nurse and for the last 32 years, as a nurse in the imaging department.

While she's had breaks in her work to have her two children and also spent some time working at St Vincent's Hospital, she's basically spent the last half a century in the corridors of LBH.

Helen Gibson (nee Ravenscroft), Lismore nurse, circa 1969. Photo Contributed
Helen Gibson (nee Ravenscroft), Lismore nurse, circa 1969. Photo Contributed Contributed

This also means she's seen a lot of changes.

"It's so much different now," Mrs Gibson said.

"I'm not saying it's easier, not saying it's harder - it's just different."

But she said, no matter whether it was in the old days or the new in her 48 year career, she loved her job all the same.

"I just enjoy looking after people I guess," she said.

"I always wanted to be a nurse."

In fact, in a funny tale it appears she actually had her first medical experience at age three, when she accidentally amputated her brother's little finger while trying to chop wood.

"Very clever, I was," she laughed.

"It was actually a clean cut and I didn't even make a mark on the next finger!"

She hasn't performed any amputations since, however.

Helen Gibson (nee Ravenscroft), Lismore nurse, circa 1966. Photo Contributed
Helen Gibson (nee Ravenscroft), Lismore nurse, circa 1966. Photo Contributed Contributed

She retired from fulltime nursing in the late '90s when she got the news she had breast cancer and went to casual work three days a week.

"I decided I didn't want to die and still be working fulltime," she said.

However, 16 years after being diagnosed, she's happily still here with us.

She said working in the imaging department for 32 years has been very interesting and enjoyable, especially considering all the technology and changes that have occurred over those years.

"It was always very exciting to do something new," she said.

Bedpans to photo scans

ONE of Mrs Gibson's continuing interests is history, and in particular, the history of Lismore Base Hospital.

Even though she retired over a year ago, she's still involved with the hospital - since finding old photographs and yearbooks of information from as far back as 1912, she took it upon herself to make sure the history is able to be remembered.

Taking the yearbooks, which were falling apart, she's been scanning and photoshopping each page over the past six years to make sure that there will be copies of this information around for the future.

"(When I found the books) I went to the CEO and said, 'we've got to do something about this,'" she said.

"I thought, in 10 years people won't be able to read the history of the hospital."

While the scanning and editing takes a lot of time, she said it's just something she enjoys doing.

Having seen how much the hospital has changed over the 50 years she was working there, with the new blocks built, new technologies created, and of course, the natural endless staffing changes over the years, conserving the history of the Base is something very close to her own heart.


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