Contents List Our Memories Sickbay

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Dramatis Personae

Dr Lees
Sister Betty Godfrey
Sister Pauley (aka The Boston Strangler/Mangler)
Sister Arrowsmith
Sister Duckworth
Sister Pye
Sister Sillence
Sister Fox
Nurse Chapman

I remember the Boston Strangler - what a cow.  I had never met such a sour-faced old woman in my life. Hold on I may have married one ... lol

Jerry Linden-Ball

Yes, I also remember the Boston Mangler. I also recall the 'treatment' she gave to one of our other first years when he cut his penis. She yanked his penis and proceeded to wrap a long bandage round and around it. Poor guy ended up looking like he had an erection three inches long and eight inches thick. He was in bandages for almost a week.

Bob Johnson

She was the most unsympathetic nurse anyone could imagine. I spent more than my fair share of time in the Sickbay and I was always getting into trouble with her.

Ian West

Regarding nursing staff - I once got earache and was prescribed 3 penicillin injections, 1 a day.  Sister Arrowsmith did the deeds but unfortunately it took a total of 7 goes as each time the muscles of my bumsky tensed and blocked the reusable needle. I got rid of the earache and gained a bruised bumsky.

John Chapman

As for the doctor in sick bay … whatever was wrong with you, even a sore foot, did he not get is flippin' stethoscope out (or is that some sick teenage fantasy I had)?

Tina Richardson

Dr Lees ... was that his name?  When we went for the TB thingy (BCG is it?) the boys were allowed to roll their sleeves up, but the girls had to take their blouse off the shoulder to allow access to the upper arm. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that girls blouses button up the other way!!!!????

Colin Leaford

We actually used to call him Dr. Fleas - childish, I know, but we thought it was funny at the time!

Tina Richardson

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A rather poor quality 1982 photo of Sister Duckworth (kind and cuddly!) , Sister Godfrey (fair but scary), Steve Fox*, Sister Pye (just scary!!). - Kerri Hack
[As far as we know the teddy bear was not called Mohammed - Ed.]

Dr Lees and that nasty nurse Godfrey laughed at me, having made me strip down, when I went to complain of sore nipples, not realising that it was (apparently) a by-product of the testosterone starting to course around my veins at the tender age of 13.

I think it was him who gave me penicillin - as did Godfrey - in my bum, with unseemly relish, when I was in sick bay with glandular fever. No one thought to tell my poor old Mum for 3 weeks, either. She only found out when she came to see one of the skule Xmas plays. What a caring, organised, establishment!

Where is he now, I wonder?

Baz Hipwell

* "Unfortunately, the publication of a photo in the 81/82 school magazine showing me sitting up in bed in sickbay clutching a teddy did little to enhance my reputation and I got locked in a wardrobe for being a 'lick'!" - Steve Fox

All the memories of the 60s sick bay are accurate.  I was there quite a bit with various ailments. One thing we used to do was put the thermometers on the heating pipe which ran behind the beds in the Nissen Hut so that it would look as if we were still dangerously ill and thereby be able to stay for a few more days. 

Sister Pauley was as sadistic as portrayed by others.  Why do people who do not really like children take a job in a school?  There was a crack in her armour however. One weekend Sister Godfrey was away and Sister Pauley was alone and she came in to make our beds and dole out the obligatory 2 aspirins and M&B penicillin before lights out and she was crying. She continued to cry whilst doing all the rounds, obviously something terrible had happened. We were all too stunned to say or do anything but I remember feeling very sorry for her and had a bit more respect for her after that.

When I was in First Form I fell over the mat going into school assembly and broke my arm. At least this was the diagnosis many hours later, after first being astutely diagnosed with sprained fingers by the sick bay staff, having to dress and undress on my own with a broken arm, eat lunch with a knife and fork and remain sitting up all day until the doctor happened to be passing by, seeing someone who was obviously virtually on life support & so worthy of having real medical attention.  He was asked to have a quick look at me as I was apparently malingering.  He promptly diagnosed a fracture and suggested I be transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital for X Rays and assessment.  Mrs Mickey, the kindly German matron form Winchester took me and there I stayed for a week after surgery and a cast.

Julia Nicholls (1963-70)

Generally speaking it was a good thing to have a verruca as you were excused from swimming (and had to stand by the side of the pool in your "navy blues") and this meant that you could go to your next social encounter without the stench of chlorine.

The price that you paid for this was a foot swathed in itchy sticky tape that had to stay in place for two weeks. The small area immediately over the verruca was cut away and some incredibly caustic potion was poured in. Basically the flesh just rotted away and was scooped and scraped out at the end of the fortnight. The major skill was the timing of the final treatment so that it was not Sister Pauley on duty!

I can remember having baths in the annexe with both feet hung over the side because of "the treatment." I can also remember that there were no locks on the doors and that certain people completed the joy of my predicament with tooth mugs of cold water!

In the 6th form I caught chicken pox from the1st formers and had to suffer the indignity of sharing their sleeping space - and missed a crucial social with Norwich house! - I also took my "O" level Maths in there while recovering (third attempt I think - but I did pass!).

Finally, for the figure conscious, there was always the option of convincing first the house matron and then one of the sisters that you were constipated. This meant that you were given fruit rather than the stodgy puddings that the menu favoured.

There, I'm sure you wanted to know that!

Liz Everitt

Most of my time at WyCol was spent looking in vain for any reason to be sent home, the most obvious reason being due to illness. I was aware of a scam that supposedly simulated measles, whereby you were meant to hit your body repeatedly with the bristles of a stiff hair brush and swing your arms rapidly in a circle, but it didn't work for me. I was admitted to sick bay with flu a couple of times, which allowed a comfortable rest for a few days, but despite my trying hard to resemble a boy at death's door I still failed to be sent home (I never considered that the logical step would have been hospital).

One day I reported to sick bay with a very painful boil on the posterior, and another one behind my knee. Both of these hurt so much I couldn't bear to sit down or pull up my socks, and I was sure this would mean a major skive. How wrong I was! The barbarous Sister Pauley was on duty, and she proceeded to bend me over a bed and lance the two boils with a pin, and then squeeze them between two cotton wool plugs until every trace of infection was expelled. I screamed and cried my head off, terrifying the kids in the waiting room no doubt, and she responded by
telling me to grow up and slapping me. When my father (who is a doctor) found out about it, he told me to refuse such treatment next time, and wrote a letter of outrage to Muz, who apologised to him (but not to me). I never dared set foot in sick bay again in case she took some sort of dreadful revenge.

The day after the torture session, I turned up for treble games with a sick note for "off games". Mr Little told me to show him the offending injury so I showed him the knee one, which by now looked disappointingly small. He gave it a slap which made me scream again, and told me to get on the rugby pitch double quick or I'd be bunny hopping round the jungle pitches for the entire session. I therefore spent another two hours or so trying to avoid scrums at all costs. It sounds funny now, but at the time I thought the whole world hated me.

David Cook

On one occasion there must have been an outbreak of "nits" in the school.   To quote what a certain person might have said, "All boys .... and girls too .... of both sexes .... will report .... to the sickbay .... for an inspection."   Each hut, well the occupants anyway, had to go down to the sickbay in turn. There we had to line up to be inspected by one of two nurses. Not sure if the girls had any problems but I do remember some of the boys having to go to the back of the line until "they had calmed down" and things had returned to normal (size!).  It was a hair inspection alright, but not of the usual kind.  I should think by the end of that lot, the two nurses must have seen all shapes, sizes and colours, enough to last a lifetime.  God knows what they said to each other at the end of each evening's inspection. A topic to discuss at the Reunion if you read this in time!

Former Inmate (1950s)

I'm surprised nobody has written specifically about Sister Arrowsmith, who made an appearance in morning assembly - to great acclaim - when she left to get married.  Doesn't anybody else remember the WW2 campaign badges lining her cloak? During the flu epidemics, she was helped by one or two occasional staff, including Sister Sillence (whose penicillin injections were, uniquely, pain-free) and Sister Fox (who, I think, was Paul Fox's mother). There was also Nurse Chapman, who lived in Attleborough. Another locum, an Irish nursing sister, was persuaded to eat horse chestnuts by boys in the year above me who presented them as sweet chestnuts.


After joining in September 1951 I had the misfortune to develop an abscess on my face.  I was jabbed with penicillin and had a bandage wrapped around my head ... but .... I developed penicillin poisoning and as it was early in the process of the drug, no-one realized and jabs were continued.

Many weeks were spent in "Sick-bay" - 'Fish, mashed potatoes, and peas' urgghhh ..... out of the window, unfortunately I got found out and got a spanked backside ... IN SICK-BAY.  Can you imagine that today?

Derek Buckingham  


Going to sick bay was always bad news. I managed to escape, but alas I was still suffering and was re-admitted, but this time I was in for a full sentence. Apparently I had glandular fever but no one told me. It was near the end of the winter term and in the end I was the only student there. How tedious it was – gargling horrible salt water on a regular basis and then left to suffer in solitary confinement – made even worse when I had to miss the paid for Christmas party! Then one day salvation – the vicar called round. On departure I actually saw a more human side to Sister Pauley – even to the extent of having a banal conversation about how she liked the smell of Imperial Leather soap!

One day I split my head at the swimming pool. Blood everywhere. I ran to sick bay for repairs, reached the office breathless and was told to sit outside and wait. Oh, so much for the casualty service I thought. Eventually a nurse, possible Sister Pauley, emerged and had a look. “Oh it’s quite bad isn’t it?” I would not know I thought to myself, I cannot see the top of my head! The next thing that I knew I was bundled into a car and driven at high speed to a doctor’s surgery at Wymondham for a few stitches. Whilst holding onto the sides of the seat in morbid fear it did occur to me that we could have arrived at the same time at a more sedate speed had they condescended to see me straight away! That evening I was summoned to see Mr Norton in his office – oh I am trouble again I thought as I had not been doing what I was supposed to have been doing in the lesson in the first place. Much to my relief Mr Norton was more concerned that I agreed that that my injury was all of my own making.

Eye tests. Mr Goman and Mr Hetherington enquired one day what careers we were interested in? I had no idea but proffered being a pilot. The next thing I knew I had to go to Sick Bay for an eye test with Tony Cronin. Tony was getting a bit panicky as he did not pass his colour blindness test the first time, but subsequently passed. I found out that I was short sighted and should have been wearing glasses! In due course I was driven to an ophthalmic optician on Newmarket Road in Norwich: in retrospect that was an awfully long way to go for an eye test.

Talking of Tony Cronin, one Sunday Canterbury House was having a rugby training session on the sports field when Tony did his knee in and was writhing in agony on the ground. He could not get up so we dumped him on one of the 15’ board walks, lifted it up with him playing the Queen of Sheeba and took him to Sick Bay. We were then roundly told to take the board walk all the way back again – and it was very heavy! Tony made a miraculous recovery and I have always wondered if he was secretly enjoying his promotion to royalty.

Peter J Beck (65-70)

Sister Betty Godfrey retired in December 1986.
Sister Duckworth (1974-94) left to marry & settle in the Dereham area.









Wymondham College Remembered