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Wartime nurse inspires grandson

University student pays tribute to WW2 health hero

From the frontline to the home front, World War II nurse Betty Dorothy Robinson has touched the lives of countless people – but none so much as her own grandson.

At 24 years-old, Harrison Mayall is now the same age as his grandmother when she was posted to a military hospital in East Yorkshire, England, during the Second World War.

Here, Betty treated sick and wounded soldiers for several years, standing firmly as aircraft swarmed and bombs exploded nearby.

Betty died in 2012, aged 92, but her legacy lives on in her grandson.

“My grandmother is the reason I decided to study Nursing,” Harrison said.

“She was such a remarkable woman, and told some truly inspiring stories about nursing during the War, and the lives she saved.

“Soldiers, pilots, POWs – she treated everyone and everything, including meningitis, TB and other infectious diseases.

“I always dreamed that one day I would do the same.”

That dream is fast becoming a reality for Harrison, who is now in his second year of a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Southern Queensland.

The road to get here has not been an easy one, though.

“I didn’t complete an OP or an ATAR when I was in high school,” Harrison said.

“And I was never really a studious person.”

But nothing could deter Harrison, who completed the University of Southern Queensland’s Tertiary Preparation Program (TPP) – a free program allowing students to develop the skills needed to successfully complete a university degree – before enrolling in Nursing.

“I would definitely recommend completing a pathway program,” Harrison said.

“Just don’t give up; as long as you try your hardest, the University will help you achieve your goals – no matter how out of reach they might feel.

“That’s what I did, and now I’m on my way to working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service!”

Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery Professor Christine Neville said she felt tremendously proud of the work-ready nurses the University had produced.

“It’s a well-established School with a long history of graduating outstanding nurses, especially for regional and remote communities,” Professor Neville said.

“It has been a tough time for people working in this profession, particularly during Covid, and that just shows the type of people nurses are.

“They are there when people are at their most vulnerable times, but also their most joyous.

“Minute by minute, our students are having a positive impact on people’s lives and that’s just incredible when you think about it.”

Learn more about studying nursing at the University of Southern Queensland.

nurse in labcoat
Harrison's dream is fast becoming a reality, who is now in his second year of a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Southern Queensland.