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Graduates of England's first-ever nursing degree course reunited

A trailblazing group of women who campaigned to create England’s first nursing degree programme have been reunited.

A trailblazing group of women who campaigned to create Englands first nursing degree programme have been reunited

The eight women were dubbed super nurses by the media for helping to turn their course at the University of Manchester into a full degree in 1970.

Famous tales

They met up last week to tell stories of how their campaign broke barriers for women, sharing the same flats as famous footballers, and life working in Africa and Asia.

Kate Kelley (ne Keeling), now a nurse practitioner in the US city of Boston, said: At that time only 10% of people went to university and we were part of a process of opening out degrees to women.

Carol Cole (ne Ireland) added that the course included

A trailblazing group of women who campaigned to create England’s first nursing degree programme have been reunited

Reunion for graduates of first ever nursing degree in England
Graduates of the first nursing degree in England have reunited.
Credit: Courtesy The University of Manchester

The eight women were dubbed ‘super nurses’ by the media for helping to turn their course at the University of Manchester into a full degree in 1970. 

Famous tales

They met up last week to tell stories of how their campaign broke barriers for women, sharing the same flats as famous footballers, and life working in Africa and Asia.

Kate Kelley (née Keeling), now a nurse practitioner in the US city of Boston, said: ‘At that time only 10% of people went to university and we were part of a process of opening out degrees to women.’

Carol Cole (née Ireland) added that the course included learning about the community, not just healthcare, which was ‘revolutionary at the time’.

She also described living in a flat above a young Manchester United star George Best and Manchester City player Mike Summerbee.

'George Best was actually very shy in person,' she said.

'We shared a garden and he and Mike often invited us to their parties. We considered them friends.'

Career progression

Pam Smith, now professor of nursing at Edinburgh University, recalled how the tutors allowed them to suggest new techniques like using sheepskins to relieve pressure ulcers.

She went on to teach student nurses in Tanzania and Mozambique and while Ms Cole trained health visitors in Cambodia in how to reduce infant mortality.

University of Manchester current head of nursing Dame Nicky Cullum said: ‘These women are all trailblazers and I’m proud that this happened here in Manchester.'

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