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16 October 2014
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Larne -
Golden Memories of Dr Betty Orr

I came to Larne in July 1945 to act as a junior medical doctor under Dr Tom Killen


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Article submitted by Alison Kane

Larne hospital outpatients
Larne hospital outpatients
I came to Larne in July 1945 to act as a junior medical doctor under Dr Tom Killen and being a very raw and newly qualified doctor it was only after about two years that he told me I was beginning to be useful!! Larne District Hospital, as it was known at that time, was a very sleepy place and there was little work to be done. The patients were mostly medical cases and so Dr Killen was only called on to perform an occasional appendectomy or similar operation. I acted as the anaesthetist and the patients survived - so I must not have been too bad!!

Mr Hugh Wilson FRCS arrived in 1947 and everything changed and we became extremely busy. I think I can truthfully say he was a workaholic, tireless in his efforts to help people when they needed him.

Larne District Hospital was by now known as the Moyle Hospital and had grown into what in those days was a reasonable unit with various different departments. A medical department was opened in 1950 with Dr George Scott MRCP as consultant physician and in 1957 a surgical department was formed under Mr Hugh Wilson FRCS, an anaesthetic department under Dr Roy Bolton with myself as his assistant, and a radiological department with Dr D A R Orr as Radiologist.

A Maternity Unit, run by Mr Arthur Stevenson was opened by Lady Antrim in 1957. Sir Ivan Magill opened a new casualty and outpatients department in 1964. Then in 1972 Lord Grey, Governor of the province, opened a geriatric Unit namely 'Inver House'. An ENT ward was established and run by Mr McCaughan and we now removed tonsils and adenoids amongst other operations, which meant we were even busier, and really had very little free time. Carrickfergus Hospital - a general hospital was opened by Mrs McFerran in 1950 and I went to administer anaesthetics there.

In June 1953 the big celebration was of course the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and in the Borough there were street parties and the school children were given a day off school lessons. All the children paraded to the Town park for a party and each child received a little gift of a bag of sweets with a label on it "from Uncle Peppy" i.e. Guiseppi Bonugli who was a well known local shopkeeper. In the hospital we had no great celebrations or parties but the then Matron hired television sets for the wards. One was placed in one of the private wards on the surgical floor, one on the medical floor and one in the pavilions. A large model television was also put in one of the rooms in the Nurses' Home. This was so that everybody, patients and nurses alike could watch the ceremony as work allowed.

Over the years I have encountered many interesting characters during my time in Larne and one of the main characters in my day was of course Mr Hugh Wilson FRCS and no résumé of the era would be complete without mentioning him again. He was extremely popular and as one little girl of about six once said to me "I would let Mr Wilson cut my head off"!! Obviously she had heard someone praising his ability as a doctor and surgeon and it was an indication to me of the trust that the people of Larne had in him.

The other main character was Betty Apsley. She had a wool shop in the Main Street, a business inherited from her aunt. She was tireless in trying to do things to improve the Borough. She founded among others, The Tufty Club, The Business and Professional Womens' Club and the Soroptomist Club of Larne District.

Sadly today the Moyle Hospital that I knew is no longer and a lot of the wonderful and interesting characters I have known have passed away. However, they have given not only me, but also the people of Larne, some great memories and have each in their own way left their mark behind them.

Special thanks goes to the Larne Millennium Initiative for its help in sourcing this story


Angela Wylie (Gilmore) - June '05
I had my first and only child in the Moyle Maternity ward on 30/4/1993 not long before it closed. I was in there for 2 weeks because the eejit inside me wuddent come out but in that time I met some wonderful people and I would dearly love to get in touch with them again. If any of these names ring a bell please get in touch with me, its all the girls who were in the Moyle Maternity ward the 2 last weeks of April 1993: Lorraine Champion, Vivien Smith, Vera Cuthbert, Phylis from Carrick, Pauline Ferguson, Kathy Montgomery, Andrea from Carrick, there's too many to mention, but please if any of yas read this get in touch it would be great to meet up again before the kids are teenagers!!

John McCarlie - April '05
I was told by my mother that Mr Wilson attended my birth, assisting his father and that he had then just newly qualified. That was in 1930.

He dressed my fingers which had been caught in machinery at the Larne Gas Works during my apprenticeship with W H Kane & Co. That was in 1948 or 1949 and he remembered me as the first child he had helped to deliver! He certainly had a high reputation as I distinctly remember from so long ago.


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