Former NHS matron turns the page after reaching centenary

Co-founder of Pickering - Polly Taylor

After Joan Page marked her hundredth birthday with family on Wednesday (April 27), her neighbours organised a party on the Common on Sunday afternoon.

Although she was born in Essex in 1922, Ms Page moved to Sevenoaks at three years old, and later trained as a nurse during World War II.

Southborough neighbour Ann Molyneux explained: “She was late starting nursing training as she had pneumonia. She started at 20 years old.

“Then she spent wartime working in London. She was at Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children [in Hackney] in 1942-45. The hospital did get bombed at one end.”

After the war, Miss Page moved on to the Royal Free Hospital and Guy’s Hospital, but later moved out of London after her father died, to be with her mother for a period.

In 1958, she joined Kent & Sussex Hospital as deputy matron, becoming matron in 1962.

Later, she became matron at the student nurse training school at Pembury Hospital in April 1964.

She retired in 1970, when changes following the Salmon Committee report saw the role of matron abolished, to be replaced by chief nursing officers.

However, Ms Molyneux stressed the former matron’s independent spirit and a wide range of interests have kept her busy ever since that retirement.

“She went to Nepal and travelled widely from 1984 to 1998,” said her neighbour.

“Her talents include art, craft and dressmaking. She is a prolific writer of stories of the past and poetry.

“It’s all very down to earth. She might write about you. She might write about me. She does not write anything horrible about anyone.

“She never had children. The family are coming from all parts of the country (for her birthday).”

However, she said the 100-year-old lady’s neighbours were central to the second celebration.

Ms Molyneux explained they had decorated the common areas in the building where they both live with ‘Cambridge Blue’ balloons for the birthday morning and then she told the Times how they celebrated in style last Sunday (May 1).

“We had a lovely picnic on the Common with a gazebo for Joan which was just fantastic,” she added.

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