Paul and Vivienne Mahoney: Memories from the RHN

Paul and Vivienne Mahoney: Memories from the RHN

In January, we were honoured to be visited by a former long-standing member of staff, Paul Mahoney, and we were delighted to hear some of his memories of working at the hospital.

Paul returning to the RHN in January 2023

Paul’s career at the RHN spanned a phenomenal 40 years. He started working at the hospital as a Health Care Assistant in 1973, when he was only 16 years old, and he retired in 2013. He remembers wanting to be a baker when he was growing up. Unfortunately, as he was suffering from cystic fibrosis, he was advised against becoming a baker due to the possible effect on his lungs.

Paul recalls attending a special school, where many children were in wheelchairs and he frequently helped with emptying the catheter bags of some of the pupils. When his Career Officer advised that there was a job available at the RHN, he came for an informal visit and he noticed that most people were in wheelchairs, which was just like being back at school.

Paul worked on both the long-term and day care wards during his time at the hospital. He assisted patients with getting washed and dressed, giving them meals, taking them to therapy appointments, and general nursing. He completed 3 years on night shifts, and day shifts often started at 5.30am.

When asked what he most enjoyed about his job at the RHN, Paul answered that he really liked being with the patients. Paul also met the love of his life here! His wife-to-be, Vivienne Stewart, was a SRN at the hospital from 1976 to 1978. Vivienne is sadly no longer with us, but Paul remembers what a wonderful and dedicated nurse she was. Her shift would end at 8.30pm, but it would take her so long to make the rounds and say goodnight to all of the patients that she wouldn’t get back to the nurses’ home next door until after 9pm.

Paul and Vivienne’s wedding day on 17th March 1979

When asked what his most rewarding recollection from his time at the RHN is, Paul replied that it was making patients’ lives more comfortable. His proudest moments were representing the hospital at one of the annual Garden Parties, and being chosen to meet Princess Diana at one of her visits to the RHN in the 1990s. He was also lucky enough to meet both the Queen and our new King during their official visits here in the 1970s and 1990s!

Paul and Vivienne outside Buckingham Palace, attending the Garden Party
Paul meeting Queen Elizabeth in 1976
Paul meeting King Charles in 1994

Paul said that it was a pleasure to work at the hospital and, if he had to live his life all over again, he would come back to the RHN in a heartbeat.

We thank Paul for sharing his precious memories with us.

Archive of the Month

We haven’t done archive of the month for a while, and this months’ #ExploreYour Archive theme is #FloraAndFauna. So, we’re delighted to showcase our lovely framed drawing of our cloister garden from 1996.

Cloister Garden from 1996

Did you know that this was an award winning garden from the Hampton Court Flower Show for that year, which was then donated to us? It is still a part of our grounds, though it has taken on a bit more of a wild garden appearance these days.

What’s On

It’s your last chance to book on our free online talk about the history of our magnificent building and the famous names from the past who used to live here. It’s on 28th March, so hurry and don’t miss out! Click here to reserve your comfy spot in front of your computer screen:

See you next month for more snippets from our archive…