Nostalgia by Robert Heaven

THERE has been a lot of fuss in the papers recently about vaccinations which prompted me to have a look at my own medical records.

I was amazed to find that as a child I had no less than 14 vaccinations before I’d even reached the age of two years old.

I grew up in the post-war welfare state with a NHS introduced in 1948, that encouraged better health and preventative measures against life threatening childhood diseases such as polio and diphtheria.

Vaccinations were part of the drive to keep the nation’s children healthy and by the mid-1980s, there were seven vaccines: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella and polio.

Vaccinations for pre-school children in Ciren were given at one of the town’s health centres, Watermoor or the top of Grove Lane where the Ciren Rugby Club is now.

School children had their “jabs” at school as many readers will remember.

Despite state measures, diseases haunted our childhood and I remember several unfortunate children afflicted by polio and forced to wear heavy metal leg callipers.

There were others that we only heard about who were forced to live in a horrific sounding device known as an ‘Iron Lung’.

It was the stuff of nightmares in my childhood imagination and not helped by the charity box reminders outside many of the town’s shops.

Timothy Whites in the Market Place had one for many years. As I remember, it was a young boy in short trousers, clutching a donations box.

His body was crooked and on one leg he wore a normal brown boot but on the over he had a leather and metal calliper; his disability emphasised by a crude wooden stick he appeared to lean on.

Later these crude and cruel depictions of illness were replaced by much softer images such as Sooty, or even my favourite character from the Daily Express, who was used by the Muscular Dystrophy Society in the 1980s.