History of Harrogate healthcare workers

Posted on: Wednesday 4 Nov 2015

A volunteer at Harrogate District Hospital has created a series of displays showcasing the history of local healthcare staff who lost their lives in the First World War.

Using the memorial tablet which has been on display at Harrogate District Hospital since the 1970s, John Greep has spent the past couple of years researching the history of the four individuals trying to find out more about them and the contributions they made.

Now, displays have been created charting the lives of Major Robert Charles Irvine (a doctor), Dorothy Mortimer Watson (a nurse), Sergeant Walter Brockbank (a porter) and Private Joseph Bagshaw (a porter).

John’s research – supported by his wife Caroline and friends – has taken him from Harrogate Library to the National Archive at Kew and the battlefields of northern France, where he visited their graves. His Maltese neighbour also helped on one of her trips home to Malta by visiting Dorothy Watson’s grave.

The boards and the memorial tablet can be found on level 1, Strayside Wing, Harrogate District Hospital.

John said: “I’m really pleased with the boards and the reaction to them has been really positive. I’m interested in history and walking past the boards as part of my main volunteering job, I got thinking about the individuals named and what their history was. It all sprung from there.

“There was a surprising amount of information about these people, the regiments in which they served and the contributions they made. In some cases, whole books! I was really surprised to find out each person had a grave site, which given the scale of missing casualties of World War One is quite remarkable.”

John volunteers as a data clerk at the hospital, after retiring from his job as a Building Surveyor for Leeds City Council.

Phillip Marshall, Director of Workforce and Organisational Developmentat Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have been delighted to have supported John in his work. The display is a fantastic piece of work and provides moving insight into people who gave their lives.

“I would recommend anyone coming to Harrogate District Hospital to make time to view the display boards. My thanks to John and his family for their work.