Memories of bygone Sheffield captured in new book

Pat and Muriel Callis stage a concert in the garden of their family home in aid of the Merchant Navy Comfort Fund
Pat and Muriel Callis stage a concert in the garden of their family home in aid of the Merchant Navy Comfort Fund
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From hosting wartime concerts to delivering babies, two sisters have shared their memories of growing up together in Sheffield in a new book.

Pat and Muriel Callis' autobiography Life's What You Make It is a window into a bygone chapter in the city's history, covering their formative years from the 1930s to 1965.

Muriel and Pat today, with their dog Monty

Muriel and Pat today, with their dog Monty

The pair, now aged 84 and 88, chart their experiences from school life during the blitz to their early careers in the world of healthcare much changed from the NHS of today.

Among their earliest memories are of the concerts they staged in the garden of their home in Gisborne Road, Ecclesall, in aid of the Merchant Navy and its crucial role during the Second World War.

"We wanted to do something for the Merchant Navy, without whom Britain would have been in an awful mess, and we both liked performing so we thought why not put on concerts to raise money. We put them on with other children from the neighbourhood and we charged people a copper to watch," said Pat.

The sisters also remember having lessons at their teacher's home during the war while a bomb shelter was built at Ecclesall Junior School, which they attended.

Muriel and Pat in their St John Ambulance uniforms with their mum Amelia

Muriel and Pat in their St John Ambulance uniforms with their mum Amelia

Pat was just five when their estate agent father Arnold died following a stroke, but she described their late mother Amelia, who worked as a secretary at Greystones School, as a tower of strength.

After leaving school, Pat trained as a midwife at The Royal Hospital in Sheffield and Muriel became a dental assistant at a surgery in City Road.

Pat rose through the ranks to become assistant supervisor of midwives in Sheffield, while Muriel was made an MBE for services to the Association of Dental Nurses.

Pat said both midwifery and dentistry back then would be almost unrecognisable to patients today. She recounted how new mothers would be virtually bed-bound for three days after giving birth and would receive daily check-ups for the next fortnight. As for dentistry, she said it was a much 'bloodier' affair back then.

Muriel and Pat at the seaside with their parents, Amelia and Arnold

Muriel and Pat at the seaside with their parents, Amelia and Arnold

The sisters, neither of whom ever married or had children, joined St John Ambulance and took young cadets from Sheffield on camping trips.

They moved in the mid-70s to Mill Bridge, in Castleton, where they still live today.

Pat said: "We felt the world we knew growing up in Sheffield was going to disappear unless we put it down in writing. It's a very different world now and we felt we had a story to tell about how it was back then. We'd love to hear from anyone pictured in the book."

Life's What You Make It is published by RMC Media, priced £6.95, with proceeds to be split between Village Ventures Africa, which helps impoverished communities in Mali, and Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk. To order a copy, email martin.edwards@rmcmedia.co.uk or call 0114 250 6300.

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