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Nurse's book showing life on the wards during WW1

by Elaine Willcox

A book of sketches and poems collected by a nurse at Stockport's Stepping Hill Hospital provides a fascinating insight into life on the wards caring for injured soldiers.

Mary Hicks started an autograph book in 1906 but it was soon filled by messages from soldiers right across the country who'd been sent there from the front line.

The hospital tracked down Mary's granddaughter in Poynton in Cheshire after her book was discovered in a second hand bookshop in Cornwall.

Nurse's book opens window on the past

Black and white family photo of nurse Mary Hicks with her four young sons all in shirts and ties
Stepping Hill Nurse Mary Hicks with her four sons Credit: ITV Granada

A book of sketches and poems collected by a nurse at Stockport's Stepping Hill Hospital during the First World War has been discovered.

Mary Hicks began the 'autograph book' in 1906 but most of the entries are from wounded soldiers she cared for, when the site became a military hospital in 1914.

Sketches by soldiers in nurses book
Soldiers sketches from Mary Hicks autograph book Credit: ITV Granada

The book was discovered in a second hand store in Cornwall and hospital staff turned detective to find the nurses relatives.

Sketch of Nurse Hicks caring for injured soldier
Sketch of Nurse Hicks caring for injured soldier Credit: ITV Granada

Nurse Hicks' granddaughter Sally-Anne Bromley was living just four miles away in Cheshire.

'I'm thrilled this is a new chapter in our family history. It is clear from the book her patients must have found her caring and great company to write so many messages. We are overwhelmed to read it.'

Picture of orderly man overworked and juggling jobs at the hospital
A Sketch of an 'Orderly' at Stepping Hill Hospital Credit: ITV Granada

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