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By Phil Mason. First published in "Grace" magazine Summer 2014
Fetch Rose Mason!

Rose Mason
Rose Mason with three of her children

Sadly I never met my paternal grandmother. She died a few years before I was born. However I have heard so much about her, not only from family members, but also older residents. She was undoubtedly a remarkable lady. Not only did she raise a large family she also served the local community as Nurse and Midwife. Untrained and unqualified she may have been, but in times of joy and sorrow, births or deaths most people sent for Rose Mason. I understand that she worked closely with the local doctor and they complemented each other. At that time many people had large families and in comparison to today were quite poor.
I was told that some people were not able to pay Grandma, but she was on hand day or night regardless of payment. In some cases she took sheets and blankets from her own bed when people had need. In those days the majority of births took place at home and the menfolk were seldom seen or heard during the delivery. As well as being a midwife Grandma was usually sent for when a loved one had died. She would prepare the body for burial or cremation. A deceased relative was often laid out in the front room so that family, friends and neighbours could pay their respects. I understand that Grandma was visited regularly by the rector and over a cup of tea in the front room she would tell him in confidence the people who were genuinely in need of food, clothing or fuel and he would see that it was provided.
In my boyhood days the population had grown somewhat and we had a full-time District Nurse. In cases of accident or emergency we would fetch Nurse Brooks. She had a black Labrador dog named Solo who always accompanied her on her rounds. I can vividly remember having my tonsils taken out on our kitchen table. It was a Sunday morning. Nurse Brooks arrived first, followed shortly afterwards by the doctor. Solo lay contentedly under the table whilst the operation took place. The family doctor was a much respected member of our local community. His house, where he held his surgery, stood in the centre of what was then a small town. It was known simply as ‘The Doctor’s’. With the exception of Sundays and Bank Holidays two surgeries were held daily. Mornings from 9am — 10am and evenings from 6pm — 7pm. There were no appointments; it was a matter of turning up and waiting your turn. During the wait you not only discovered who was suffering from what, you heard all the local gossip and much more besides. The doctor must have had a very busy life. After the morning surgery he would do his rounds visiting patients who were unable to get to the surgery. He also held weekly surgeries in two neighbouring villages and apart from one evening he was on call day or night. We look back with nostalgia. Today fewer children die in infancy and no one has to pay to visit a doctor. We now boast a large new Health Centre with a panel of doctors, nurses and receptionists. Our National Health Service is the envy of the world and caters for people from the cradle to the grave. Yet in gaining this we seem to have lost something. We no longer have a family doctor. In many cases when we are ill we are unable to get an appointment for that day. Home visits are not always possible and perhaps worst of all we no longer have that community spirit that Grandma Mason and hundreds like her fostered in our towns and villages.

Rose Hannah Mason was formerly Rose Hannah Capps-York born 1875. She married Charles Albert Mason in 1896.

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