League of Nurses

Addenbrooke's Archives

The Addenbrooke's League of Nurses was dissolved in 2009 after 60 years.



Presidents Speech | Closure of the Addenbrooke’s Hospital League Of Nurses


League of Nurses shield

Presidents Speech to welcome guests and members to the last AGM of the Addenbrooke's Hospital League of Nurses:

Welcome to you all, at this, the last annual general meeting of the Addenbrooke's Hospital League of Nurses. It is a day when we are bound to feel sadness for we are losing something that we cherish; the link with Addenbrooke's and colleagues and friends from the time we spent there. I think some sadness today is understandable but I would like to suggest that pride, celebration and thanksgiving have a greater place.


The following explains why:

In the early days of the League, sisters from the hospital formed the committee. They were all single.


Jumble sales were held in the outpatients’ hall to boost League funds and Lady Bottomley was asked to provide teas.


Competitions and exhibitions of embroidery and knitting were worthy of a wider audience. Paton and Baldwins agreed to judge the knitting. They also exhibited holiday souvenirs, which members had collected.


In those days the League was a member of the National Council of Nurses. With a little financial help, elected members attended the international congress meetings in Australia, Turkey, Italy and Germany. In Frankfurt in 1965 six thousand members from all over the world were present. It was recorded as being a well-organised, busy week. The whole town was hospitable and helpful. Two hundred buses took members to hospitals and institutions over a radius of 40 miles and six steamers took members on a trip up the Rhine.


On another occasion the League was allocated 3 places for dinner at Drapers Hall in connection with the amalgamation of the Royal College of Nursing and the National Council of Nurses.


In 1962 Miss Woolerton represented the League at a Buckingham Palace Garden Party.


By contrast, in later years our committee members are all married. We no longer hold jumble sales or exhibitions of embroidery and holiday souvenirs. Our activities are more parochial; travelling no further than London to represent the League at the Florence Nightingale commemorative service at Westminster Abbey or round trips of up to 80 miles to attend committee meetings.


Through all the years the League has survived changes that were beyond its control. These included, for example, the Salmon report, Project 2000, various NHS organisational changes, the closure of old Addenbrooke's and the opening of the new Addenbrooke's and more recently, the end of the School of Nursing.


There have been other things that have spanned the life of the League. Social occasions such as lunches, dinners and other special celebrations have taken place. Donations were made, for example £100 paid in installments in 1966 to Florence Nightingale House so that a room could be decorated and named ‘Addenbrooke's room’. In 1993 a picture entitled ‘Back Garden’ by J Sudderby was given to the day surgery unit.


There have been numerous achievements too: In 1961 the Addenbrooke's League of Nurses Benevolent Fund was set up. It was for Addenbrooke's trained nurses who found themselves in need.


Exhibitions mainly in connection with Nursing through the ages continued to be held in the hospital and more recently at the Judge school of management. Cambridge University Alumni also enjoyed a guided tour by four league members giving descriptions of what happened in each part of the building when it was a lively hospital.


The magazine has gone from strength to strength culminating in the excellent Jubilee 2008 issue.

There have been commissions; tiles, plates, and plaques all with the Addenbrooke's badge. Then there are the books. ‘The Book of Remembrance’ in the hospital chapel was introduced and backdated to 1984, ‘Addenbrooke's past and present’ compiled by Pat Tucker, ‘Tales of Addenbrooke's Hospital’ compiled by Pat Kennedy and ‘Hard Work But Happy’ compiled by myself.


Over the last twelve years, achievements have included, the re-introduction of the Addenbrooke's badge, a stone and plaque at the old Addenbrooke's Hospital to commemorate 50 years of the League and support for Dr. Archers ideas of  Puddicombe way and a tree to be planted with a plaque at the New Hospital Campus, to commemorate the Addenbrooke's Hospital League of Nurses and its founder Miss Lucy Ottley.


Speakers have been invited to the AGM since its inception. Many have been excellent but I think you will agree that over the last few years they have been outstanding.

Recruitment has remained an issue from the beginning. Membership has fluctuated over the years and peaked four years ago with over 500 members. It is ironic that in spite of this, changes in the NHS and socially have determined our future. This is the sad part but I think you will agree that we have a great deal to be proud of which calls for celebration and thanksgiving today.


Thank you all for coming, your presence is most important to us. I hope very much that you will find the day both meaningful and memorable.


Thank you very much.


Gill Winser


Back to top





Closure of the Addenbrooke’s Hospital League Of Nurses


The Final Annual General Meeting of the Addenbrooke’s Hospital League of Nurses, which still had 439 members, was held on 6 June. 2009 at 10:30 at the Clinical School of Addenbrooke’s Hospital. 97 members attended.


Gill Winser, President chaired the meeting. The President, Magazine Editor and the Treasurer, who also reported on the accounts of the Addenbrooke’s Hospital League of Nurses Benevolent Fund, gave annual reports.


The President reported on the years work before giving thanks to Dr. Archer, Mr Day, Mr Rundle, the Chaplaincy, the Archivist, Hospital Staff, Mr Stripe, The League Committee, Vice Presidents and Members for their outstanding support for the Addenbrooke’s Hospital League of Nurses.


The President informed members that they would receive a final mailing with the details when all transactions were completed.


A report will be included on the plaque and planting of a tree to commemorate 60 years of the League and its founder, which will take place in the autumn.


Gill Winser, President said that although her hope to keep the League going was not possible she felt that with the help of the committee and other support, the life of the League had remained strong and vibrant for those few extra years. Gill suggested that ‘the bond we feel from those old Addenbrooke’s days cannot be broken but will remain with us always.’


The President and present committee were re-elected on bloc by the members to continue to act on their behalf after the closure of the League until all business was concluded.


With business concluded at 11:15 The President declared that the Addenbrooke’s League of Nurses and the Addenbrooke’s Hospital League of Nurses Benevolent Fund was now closed. There was a very brief silence.

The President, who accepted that it would be a day tinged with sadness, invited guests and members to take part in a day of commemoration, celebration and thanksgiving.


Dr Castille gave a talk on nursing in both the old and new Hospital and on the direction of nursing now and into the future. Julia Sirett, the youngest member of the League, gave an eloquent response and thanked Dr Castille for building a bridge between the old and the new.


Naming a road to commemorate the life of Miss Puddicombe followed by the unveiling were both ideas put forward by Dr Archer.


Miss Puddicombe was the last Matron of the old and first Matron of the New Hospital.


Many League members had nursed whilst Miss Puddicombe was Matron and she was an active member of the League for many years.


The unveiling of Puddicombe Way by her nephew Michael Earl was a moving occasion. Many League members, other family members, Dr Archer and special guests were present.


Following a delicious lunch, Rev. Debbie Ford led a meaningful service in the hospital Chapel. Everybody was given a bulb to set and Debbie asked that as each member planted their bulb they would let it be a sign of the new things God wants you to do day by day. The collection of £235 was donated to the chapel.


Tea was served later and committee members were presented with a plant in appreciation of their work over the years.


Finally a symbolic handing over of the Chain of Office and other memorabilia to the Archivist and a reading by the President ended the day; a very fitting day to bring the Addenbrooke’s Hospital League of Nurses to a dignified end.





There will be new beginnings as you move off the old, familiar, well-trodden path.


There will be difficulties, moments of doubt, moments of fear but there will be amazements too.

Friends are not always there to help good things happen. But even if you are alone with your camel in the middle of the Sahara, or steering single-handed through the South Atlantic gale – their thoughts are with you and their wishes for good things to happen.





Back to top