THEY were young women, who dreamed of a career in nursing.
And they were prepared to fly halfway round the world to achieve that dream.
Now many of those young women are to make that same journey again; and return to Huddersfield and the hospital where they honed their skills.
A reunion is planned next week in Huddersfield for many of the trainee nurses who joined the State Registered Nurse courses at the Infirmary throughout 1970.
Many of those young students were Malaysian girls, some of them still in their teens, who had flown thousands of miles for the chance to learn a career in nursing.
Many settled in Britain after completing their training, like Chai Lee, now Mrs Chai Hawdon, who lives in Newsome, and is helping to arrange next week’s reunion.
Others returned to Malaysia or found jobs in hospitals across the world, including Australia and the United States.
Several are making the long flight from Malaysia next week for the reunion.
The special visit will include a tour behind the scenes of the 2010 Huddersfield Royal Infirmary as well as social outings.
Mrs Hawdon, who is working with former student colleagues Lee Hong Hirst (nee Lee) and Suat Cheng Dyson (nee Lim), hopes to get many of the classes together.
“Many of us came to the Royal Infirmary in the early 1970s,’’ she said.
“I was brought up in Penang, a small part of the Malaysian peninsula. There were very few opportunities there for people who wanted to go into nursing.
“Many Malaysian girls flew to Britain to train and a large number of us ended up at the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
“You look at the course photos and realise that a large number of the students were Malaysian girls.
“It was a three-year SRN course but many of us stayed on to do specialised training.
“We had to pay our own airfare to get to the UK and many did return home to get jobs in Malaysian hospitals. I came over here with eight friends and I stayed here to work.”
Now she and the others hope that many more students from those 1970 courses, and not just the Malay students, will come together next week.
“We are in touch with many of the Malay nurses but we’d love to hear from anyone who has settled in the UK.
“One of our senior tutor nurses was Richard Francis, who was very helpful to us all, and we’d love to hear from him”.
The former students are to tour the hospital at Lindley on Saturday, June 12. They will also have a lunch on that day at Mrs Hawdon’s home in Aysgarth Road.
Mrs Hawdon can be contacted on 01484 423065 or email@example.com