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Patient stories: Valerie Pestell

Posted on Wednesday 28 December 2016 in Patient Stories

In 1992, a botched hip operation threatened Valerie’s mobility and happiness. This is her story of overcoming disaster, with a little help from The Horder Centre. Two hip operations plus one knee later, Valerie is living life to the full. “I am still playing golf and doing everything that an 80 year old wants to!.”

Writing in 2016, here is a unique first hand account into the embryonic stages of what we now know, as Horder Healthcare.


Photograph of patient Valerie Pestell.
It was 1992, I was a very frightened lady - I had a disastrous hip operation – in another hospital I must add – but The Horder Centre rescued me from a life on crutches.  Mr. Gallannaugh, a truly wonderful surgeon, performed a hip revision operation and I am able to enjoy life to the full again.

I have such fond memories of a very different Horder to the one we all know and love now.  Twenty-four years ago it was primarily a residential home for arthritics. There were just two large wards and one operating theatre which took care of the surgical patients.  There was no physiotherapy department, just two physiotherapists who used to come by our beds and give us our physical jerks! I believe that there were only three surgeons who performed orthopaedic operations.

For a hip revision in those days it meant a two week stay at The Horder Centre.  As a private patient I was taken off the ward after 72 hours and had my own room (no bathroom ensuite though).  But my memories of the time on the ward were very happy, the Ward Sister kept us all jolly and the nursing was second to none.

One morning two gentlemen were chatting across the ward and discussing how they could raise money to help the Horder charity.  Like us all, they were so grateful for what was being done to get us on the path to being active again.  They came up with the idea of a golf day for ex-patients and their guests.  About sixteen of us played in that first competition at The Weald of Kent Golf Club- chosen because they had a lot of buggies!  Not too many golf clubs had buggies in those days.
It was a very successful day and raised a modest amount so it was decided to make it an annual event.  For the benefit of those readers who do not play golf, I must add that this has blossomed into a huge affair at The East Sussex National Golf Club and the money raised now is something we could only dream about all those years ago.

To get back to my two weeks’ stay in the hospital... my sons loved to come and visit.  After a cursory “Hello Mum”, they were gone!  Where, you may ask?  There was a full sized snooker table in one of the lounges which was, of course for the use of the residents.  However, no one worried about these two teenagers having fun whilst “visiting” their Mum!

Part of my therapy was taking a walk so I would visit the residents, who always welcomed me and wanted me to stay and chat for ages! Residents and patients ate in the restaurant together and mealtimes were a very sociable time for us all. 

So many happy memories of what could have been such a difficult time, but thank you Horder Healthcare for all you did and continue to do with your wonderful work to alleviate pain and getting patients fit to live their lives again to the full.

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