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Patricia's story: Wheelchair helped me make emotional trip

A woman in a wheelchair sits in front of three women© InfoEvery year, former nurse Patricia Ellis makes an emotional journey to Llandudno pier to lay flowers at the spot where her husband George’s ashes were scattered.

Llandudno pier is the longest in Wales and Patricia, 82, from Shrewsbury, suffers from spinal problems, so this year she was delighted to be able to borrow a wheelchair from the British Red Cross to help her make the trip.

The Red Cross provides short-term loans of medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, for people with a disability or illness, or who have just come out of hospital. Last Saturday, Patricia’s trip was all the more special because she was joined by her daughter Janette and granddaughters Katie and Emma.

Happy memory

She said: “This is the first opportunity we’ve had this year to go and take a few flowers. I must say that when we came home I was very emotional because it’s so difficult to get my two granddaughters together at the same time.

“It meant I was there as George’s wife and my daughter was there and my two granddaughters and that’s never happened before. If I never go again, Saturday is going to be my happy memory of it all.”

Patricia’s use of the service is the latest event in a lifetime of association with the Red Cross.

As a 10-year-old, Patricia joined the Red Cross as a cadet and trained in infant and child welfare. She stayed at home helping in her parents' butcher shop during the war years but later volunteered as a Red Cross nurse in the Royal Shrewsbury Infirmary.

Her first day provided her with one of her toughest challenges, to comfort a dying woman. She remembered: “I just had to sit there and hold her hand.”

Becoming a nurse

At the age of 20 Patricia left home to begin her nursing career and says her Red Cross training stood her in good stead. “I went to North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary, in Stoke-on-Trent and I was able to take my Red Cross certificates with me at my interview. I’m quite sure it was as a result of this that the matron felt I would be good to train.”

Patricia completed the three years' training to become a state registered nurse and it was at the end of the training that she married George Ellis, the chief engineer at the hospital. They had two daughters, Janette and Lynne, and Patricia later became a district nurse before ending her career as an audiometrician, testing children’s sight and hearing in schools throughout Shropshire.

When George died in 1994, at the age of 73, the family scattered his ashes into the sea at Llandudno. Patricia says: “I like to think that wherever I go, every sea I go to, he might be there.”

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