Walking along the main corridor of Forth Valley Royal Hospital, you may have noticed the painting of Matron Anna Dick and Roddy, her Scottie dog. With aid of archived documents, the Corporate Records Management team have been able to piece together a brief history on an important figure from Forth Valley’s past.
Anna Dick was born in Largs in 1889, the 8th of 10 Children. She moved to Edinburgh to study nursing at the Royal Infirmary and qualified in 1922.
Anna Dick then registered at Falkirk & District Royal Infirmary in March 1924. Shortly after, Anna was made Senior Sister before being appointed Matron in January 1930.
By 1931, Matron Anna Dick led 8 sisters and 37 nurses, double the number the hospital had while she was Senior Sister. By 1933 she, along with 9 Sisters and 54 Nurses, oversaw the care of more than 2000 patients and 5000 outpatients. It is said that Matron Dick and her dog, Roddy, (who is also featured in the painting), personally met with every single patient before they were discharged.
In 1954, Matron Anna Dick retired after becoming the longest serving Matron of Falkirk & District Royal (a record that still stands today). After retiring, she moved to Clarkston, Glasgow, with her younger sister Jessie (Alix) Dick, the artist of the painting (she taught at Glasgow School of Art, 1922-1959 and was elected as an Associate Member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1960), and their elder sister Meg, who they both cared for until her death.
Unfortunately in 1976, both Alix and Anna died in tragic circumstances in their Clarkston home. Alix, then 80 years old, fell from a ladder whilst retrieving her art supplies that she kept in the loft of their house and couldn’t move, remaining where she fell. Anna at that point was also bedridden, and in trying to assist her sister, also collapsed, so neither of them could get to the telephone to call for help. After caring for so many patients over the years it seems unjust no-one was there to help Anna or her sister when they needed it.
With thanks to Robert Bruce for his detective work.
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