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Elizabeth Webster, Arcare Portarlington

Elizabeth Webster enjoyed her nurse training at the Alfred Hospital, but she loved catching glimpses of a certain boy on her train even more.

Elizabeth Webster: World War two, Alfred Hospital, Teddy bears, London, world travel, family

Elizabeth Webster enjoyed her nurse training at the Alfred Hospital, but she loved catching glimpses of a certain boy on her train even more.

After weeks of eye catching and blushing, the couple formally met, putting an end to Elizabeth’s fledgling career. Elizabeth was born in 1934 and a brother arrived four years later.

Her father served in World War II and, upon his return, her family moved into a hotel in the city that he managed. Elizabeth hated it.

Yearning for home ‘I just used to yearn to be normal again because other girls went home to a house and a garden, and I went home to a crummy little hotel in the city.

I went to a private school and all the rest of it, but it was agony because I didn't want anybody to know where I lived.’

Luckily for Elizabeth, her mother became pregnant again, prompting the family to move back to Sandringham.

After finishing school, Elizabeth worked in a bank for a couple of years. ‘But banking certainly wasn't my forte, and I went to the Alfred Hospital and trained as a nurse, but unfortunately I didn't finish because I met a boy.’

Boy on the train

The boy on the train was Jervis Webster. Jervis lived in Hampton so he’d catch the same train as Elizabeth but would get on one stop earlier.

‘We would sneak looks at each other and if I caught him looking at me, I'd look away and if it was the other way around, he'd sort of blush and pretend he was looking at something else, and that went on for some time,’ Elizabeth laughs.

‘And one night he was still on the train when it left Hampton and journeyed on to Sandringham. He followed me out and said, “What's your name?”, and that was it.

A few years later I married him.’ Elizabeth was 23 when she had the first of her five children. She enjoyed baking and books.

‘I could read one from the start of one day to the end of it, sitting amongst mayhem that should've been getting tidy instead of me reading,’ she laughs.

#metoo

When the children were a little older, she worked as a receptionist at a doctors’ rooms, having an early #metoo moment when she reported a doctor who repeatedly tried to kiss her.

The doctor was given his notice. Elizabeth’s oldest son was still living at home when Jervis died in his sleep.

Wonderful friends got her through the worst of her grief and, in her 60s, she took a couple of solo trips overseas, having found she preferred travelling alone.

During one, memorable trip, Elizabeth stayed with an order of Maltese nuns in a guesthouse near London for five weeks.

‘Those nuns were just beautiful. My grandchildren were quite young, so I’d bought an assortment of dolls and teddy bears and when the nuns used to make the bed, they used to sit the teddy bears in a little circle, like they were going to a party…they were beautiful, beautiful women.’

Listen to Elizabeth's story

Reviewed 20 November 2022