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Shirley Wakefield

shares her life story with Denise McCarthy
As Shirley Wakefield walked through the numerous rooms of Parkside in Box Street, Merbein in October 2019, she felt a sensation she couldn’t name.

It was not familiarity, as she had only been there once before this visit; then she was a tiny baby, and it was 83 years ago. Talking about the feeling later, Shirley recognised it as empathy. Having given birth to four children, she knew there were good birth experiences and some not so good, and instinct told Shirley her mother would have been well cared for at Parkside. Parkside was a private hospital built and operated by popular Merbein-based Doctor Ernest Spargo. It opened in 1928 as a hospital catering for medical, surgical and midwifery cases, but after Mildura Base Hospital opened in 1934, Parkside was scaled down, and the last birth recorded was in 1938. Shirley Elizabeth Anne Sheean was born on July 18, 1936 to Thelma Gladys (nee Tyers) and Thomas Christopher Sheean of Fourth Street, Merbein. She was their second child, after Richard Thomas, and two boys followed; Patrick Edward Francis Anthony, and Neil David. Being their family doctor’s own small, well-run hospital and close to the Sheean’s home, Parkside was an obvious choice for their second child’s birth.

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Mallee Living Histories

The Mallee’s Living Histories full editions are available for purchase from Princes Court Community Living Shop.