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The Radcliffe Guild of Nurses was established in 1925 to unite all those who had undertaken their nurse training at the Radcliffe Infirmary. In subsequent years midwifery and all branches of nursing were welcomed including those who graduate from Oxford Brookes University.
Open to all nurses who have been trained in Oxford to become a registered nurse, or graduated in any pre-registration branch of nursing or midwifery from Oxford Brookes University.
Annual awards and benevolent funds to eligible nurses.
The first meeting
The first meeting of the Radcliffe Guild of Nurses was held in the Committee Room of the Radcliffe Infirmary on the 16th of June 1925. There were 22 members present at that first meeting. The purpose of the Guild was defined as “to unite all those who have worked together at the Radcliffe Infirmary, and who, although scattered, may be glad to have this link between them, their fellow nurses and their old hospital”. It was agreed that Matron would be the President; an annual meeting would be held on the third Tuesday in June each year and a “leaflet” was to be issued to all members annually. The first leaflet was 4 pages long. It was also decided to have a Guild badge, a replica in bronze of the gold and silver medals awarded to the best hospital finalists. By 1926 the number of Guild members had risen to 104.
1933 was the first year that the magazine appeared in the familiar stiff blue cover with the hospital crest replaced by the Guild badge. The first reunion group photograph appeared in 1933 and the President announced that the Guild now had 250 members, and 71 of them had failed to pay their subscription fees of 2 shillings and sixpence. Reunions continued to be held, as a rule on the same day as the Hospital Fete until the outbreak of the Second World War. The luncheon party at the reunion was a formal occasion with toasts and speeches, printed menu cards and elaborate fare to eat. It was paid for by the Board of Governors. Sadly, both the fete and luncheon party came to an end with the outbreak of war in 1939.
Reunions continued during the war years, often with depressing news of members losing their lives in the armed forces. Attendance was variable as travel was difficult. The photograph of the 1941 reunion shows the new President Miss Preddy, and some of the 100 members who attended the occasion. The Guild publication took the name ‘Report’ instead of ‘Leaflet’ in 1942 and it contained a sketch of the proposed new badge which was adopted in 1943. The report became thinner as paper was difficult to obtain. The only year during the war when a reunion didn’t take place was 1944.
Post war years
During the post war years, the Guild established a bursary to enable post registration study to be undertaken. The constitution was revised in 1946 and the annual subscription raised to 5/-. A life membership was instituted for a 5-guinea subscription.
The 1949 Reunion once again became a whole day. In 1954 The subscription was raised to 8 shillings and 6p and the Radcliffe Guild of Nurse’s annual prize of 5 guineas was established.
Due to the cost of paper and printing in 1960 it was agreed to publish the names and addresses of members every 2 years instead of annually. The Membership was by now over 500. 1965 saw the centenary of the dedication of Saint Luke’s Chapel which had always played a part in the Reunion days. This year the Guild appointed an honorary editor of the Report to relieve the secretary. 1969 saw the first male member of the Guild.
The Bi-centenary year of the Radcliffe Infirmary occurred in 1970, The Guild Report was published with a red cover and the Reunion was held in October in order that members could take part in the celebrations.
1975 was the Guild’s 50th anniversary with a service in Christ Church Cathedral and dinner in the Masonic Hall at 333 Banbury Road. The pattern was set for future large celebrations. Members were asked for the first time in 1979 for a voluntary contribution to pay for the Reunion as funding from the Health Authority was no longer available. The President of the Guild became an elected member rather than the post being automatically passed to Matron who no longer existed due to NHS reorganisations.
Decline of recruitment
By 1980 there was a decline of recruitment to the membership of the Guild. Fewer newly qualified nurses were joining and unfortunately that pattern has continued. The Witt’s Lecture Theatre within the Radcliffe Infirmary became the venue for the lecture and the AGM. Catering in the form of a buffet lunch took place in either the Nurses Recreation room or the Staff Restaurant.
The costs of the Report had escalated by 1989 and it was agreed that members would contribute £1.50p annually towards the cost.
The Anne Harrold Endowment Fund
The Guild received its first legacy from Anne Chalmers nee Harrold in 1990 and the Anne Harrold Endowment Fund was started. Similarly, a bequest from Mr Lightbody helped to boost the Guild funds. During the 1990’s the reunion business remained at the Radcliffe Infirmary but owing to difficulties in catering, the lunch was served in St Ann’s College. The cost of the Report was raised to £2.00. In 1998 due to difficulties in obtaining accommodation for all aspects of the Reunion day the whole event, apart from the Annual service was moved to St Anne’s College.
In 2000 The Guild celebrated its 75th anniversary. There were 2 days of celebrations. A service was held in Christchurch Cathedral followed by a dinner at 33 Banbury Road and Colin Dexter, as the guest, entertained the members. The business part of the Reunion took place the next day with a celebratory tea. Guild Reunions were always held within the confines of the Radcliffe Infirmary until this was no longer possible with the redevelopment of the site by Oxford University. The last service was held in Saint Luke’s Chapel in 2006.
The 90th anniversary of the Guild was celebrated in 2015 at Somerville College. The service was held in their chapel and led by the Reverend Phillip Sutton and Father Pious Duniya.
Archive material relating to the Radcliffe Guild of Nurses is held by the Oxfordshire HealthArchives, which is open to public access at the Oxfordshire History Centre. This collection iscurrently in the process of being sorted and catalogued, so anybody wishing to view thematerial would first need to seek permission from the archives team.
For more information on the Oxfordshire Health Archives, please visit the Oxfordshire health archives.
The Guild continues to hold an annual reunion day with a short ecumenical service during which deceased members are remembered, the AGM’s, the awarding of bursaries and a speaker. The day is very much enjoyed by those who attend. The Guild continues to welcome new members, membership is open to any nurse, who has undertaken nurse training in Oxford, or are nursing or midwifery graduates of Oxford Brookes University. Associate membership is available for those who commenced, but were unable to complete their training in Oxford and honorary memberships are also available to those who have worked in Oxford for not less than three years. The cost is £20 for life membership plus £5 per year for UK members and £10 for overseas members for the Guild magazine to be posted.
Honorary Vice Presidents: Sue Bradshaw (President from 1987 to 1994) and Rita Bayley (President from 2009 to 2016)
President: Xante Cummings (May 1973)
Vice President: Jane Venables
Treasurer: Judith Young
Secretary: Dr Liz Westcott (October 1978 set)
Magazine Editor: Nicky Brennan
Membership Secretaries: Hilary Innes, Ann Mattocks and Jacqueline Kirwan
Chair: Xante Cummings
Treasurer: Judith young
Welfare Officer Jane Venables
Awards Officers: Rita Bayley and Viv Wightman
Secretary: Liz Westcott
The magazine of the Guild is produced annually and includes a Presidents letter, news from the Guild and members, information on grants and bursaries, reunion details, minutes and agendas of the AGMs of the Guild and the charitable Trust.
Cost is currently £5 per annum for UK residents and £10 per annum for overseas members paid by standing bankers order, in January.
Download the 125 Years of Nurse Education in Oxford booklet here.
Members from all over the world attend the annual reunion day which is held on a Saturday
in June each year in Oxford.
The date for the reunion is published in the annual magazine in March or may be obtained
from the President – Xante Cummings at the end of January/early February. If you wish to
bring a guest you are very welcome to do so provided that the full visitors’ rate is paid by the
cut-off date, usually early May.
If you wish to attend a reunion but are not a member you are very welcome if you pay the
visitors’ rate prior to the cut-off date, usually early May. Please contact Judith Young
The program for the reunion day includes an address from a speaker, coffee lunch and tea
and a really good opportunity to catch up with other members and Guild activities.
Download the privacy statement »
This statement provides information about how the Guild will use (or process) personal data about individuals including current and past members of the Radcliffe Guild of Nurses (RGN).
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