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Jill's NHS Story

Margaret Gillian “Jill” Sims (nee Cooper)


Jill started her Nurse training on 17 April 1950 at Brookfield Preliminary Training School on London Road in Leicester for three months. She then spent three years at the Royal Infirmary, undertaking her general nursing training and living in the Nurses Home on Knighton Street.

Jill qualified in 1953 and spent three years as a staff nurse on the children’s ward at the Royal Infirmary. This was an orthopaedic and general surgery ward. 

After this, she went to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) in London to earn her Orthopaedic Nursing Certificate (ONC). 

On returning to Leicester, Jill was offered a sister’s post at the Royal Infirmary in the Orthopaedic department and stayed at the Royal on and off for the next thirty years! 

During this time, Jill spent fifteen years in the fracture clinic and two years as sister on Odames Ward. This was a surgical and emergencies ward. Later Jill was involved in designing and delivering the teaching and training of over 100 nursing auxiliaries.

There were 40 beds on the Odames ward, with 3 side beds for infectious patients. The ward accepted all kinds of admissions and was overseen by four different consultants. Once a week, the matron would do a ward round in which the nursing staff would have to remember and recite each and every patient’s name, diagnosis, and treatment together with their relatives’ names. 

The matron was very strict, Jill recalls. “We had to report to the matron for each meal. I even had to ask matron for permission to get married! I was very nervous to ask.”

Jill reminisced about why she chose to go into healthcare. “When I was five, we had a lodger whose sister was a nurse and the local GP’s surgery was held in our front room. I remember telling my parents then that I wanted to be a nurse. I loved the job and I’d do it all over again if I could. They were the happiest days of my life.”


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We would like to thank Jill for sharing her stories and photographs with us to help celebrate 70 Years of the NHS.


If you would like to share your NHS70 story, please click here or email communications@uhl-tr.nhs.uk.




01 - Brookfield Preliminary Training School
Brookfield Preliminary Training School
02 - Jill's Student Nurse's Training Record, Jill Sims NHS70 Story
Jill's Student Nurse's Training Record
03 - Jill at Knighton Street, Jill Sims NHS70 Story
Jill at Knighton Street
04 - Jill's Nurse Training Group, Jill Sims NHS70 Story
Jill's Nurse Training Group
05 - Jill reminiscing about working for the NHS in Leicester, Jill Sims NHS70 Story
Jill reminiscing about working for the NHS
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06 - Jill at Aylestone Road, Jill Sims NHS70 Story
Jill at Aylestone Road
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The Odames Ward, then and now!

Jill was kind enough to share a few of her photos and one in particular showed a patient being treated for burns in the Odames Ward:


01 - Odames Ward, Jill Sims NHS70 Story
Odames Ward


The Odames Ward is now the Odames Library. The plaque you can see in the above photo remains on the wall, along with each of the other plaques that accompanied each bed on the ward. The area you can see above is now used as seating in the Library: 


02 - Odames Library
Odames Library


Take a trip from the present to the past with our Odames Then and Now animation below:


Odames GIF


To read more about the Odames Library, please click here.