Gillian Holtby


Dorset House Occupational Therapy nurses uniform 1945

Dorset-House-auxiliary-OT-uniform-1945This photograph was taken of my Aunt, Gillian Holtby, in 1945. She had begun work as an Auxiliary Nurse a year or so before at 18, specialising in Occupational Therapy, a job she was to do until she retired. Her mother probably asked for a portrait when she came home to Bridlington to visit, and it was taken by the local firm of Brighams, who did a lot of war portraits (and later took seaside portraits and walking pictures, a history of the firm is on the site). He has signed this small print in pencil, something many studios did. The frame is actually part of the print. Gill’s uniform has the official OT patch sewn on, and the words Dorset House. This was a London based training centre which was evacuated out of the city at this time.


Gillian Holtby, Harrogate Royal Spa Hospital, 1948.

This photograph was taken at the Royal Spa Hospital in Harrogate where Gillian worked after completing her Occupational Therapy training. It was taken by a local newspaper, and shows her working with a young patient using some sort of weaving frame. There is not enough detail to make out the enamel lapel badge.


Gillian Brooke in her kitchen, 1971

Most pre-digital family photographs tend to be taken on special occasions, so this one is a little out of the ordinary. It was taken by the local Hull newspaper in 1971 for a feature they did on Gill, a series called Hull Residents & Their Houses. It focussed on creative people, and Gill was chosen due to her theatrical work in the city. The photo was taken in the kitchen, and actually shows her working on flash cards for the social services department she ran for many years. I like all the busy accidental detail which they’ve captured, she has made no huge attempt to tidy everything away, and so much brings back memories of visits. The portable typewriter, the heavy duty handbag, and the fold up wooden chairs which were used in the kitchen for many years. She lived in the house for fifty years.