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Nurses worked - and played - hard
Betty Sharp, from Peacehaven, trained and worked at the Royal Alex for 35 years.
In the Fifties, she was one of 100 student nurses there and although they had to work hard, they knew how to play hard as well.
The 72-year-old said: "You could have as many as 180 children to look after in those days and as many as 40 on the surgical ward. The matron expected you to know every single child's name, diagnosis and treatment.
"As well as working hard on the wards, you also had to fit in your studies and training so it was often a tough time.
"The person many students and staff will remember was the matron, Mrs Cawthorne, who was very strict and made sure she kept her staff on their toes. She used to sleep at the hospital in those days and made sure the whole place ran like clockwork."
Despite the hard work, there was plenty of fun to be had. Every year the staff held a pantomime for the children and it was always a roaring success.
They also used to sing prayers to the children every morning just before lunch.
Another character was an old man called Mr Box, who used to visit the wards every Saturday and play a gramophone record for the children and hand out sweets to the patients and staff.
Every December since its early days, a giant Christmas tree has stood in the Dyke Road building, its branches adorned with brightly coloured ornaments.
Mrs Sharp said: "We used to try and bring in as many of the poorer children as possible at that time so they could have a wonderful treat. That has changed over the years and the main aim now is to send them home with their families.
"Each bed was hung with a stocking and staff would join up with the local choir for a carol service.
"We had a regular Christmas pantomime in the nearby church hall, which was put on by the doctors and nurses for the children. They were always a success."
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