Heart and soul: Statues of soldier and nurse are well received

November 29, 2017

The statues at the entrance to the Rochester hospital.

THE people of Rochester are really in caring hands.

The new sculptures of a World War II soldier and nurse, titled In Caring Hands, which sit at the entrance to the Rochester hospital, have been met with rave reviews from the public.

The life-sized statues, carved out of cypress wood, were unveiled just over a week ago and have already had a lasting effect on the hospital patients, staff and wider community.

The sculptures were hand-carved by sculptor Richard Yates

‘‘They were both carved from a single piece of cypress pine,’’ Richard said.

‘‘After a lot of collaboration and consultation with some old family photos and ideas we came to the conclusion that the soldier and the nurse would be best represented together.

‘‘The soldier is holding a cane and the nurse is helping his other arm — like they are walking out of the hospital.’’

The sculptures represent the history of the Rochester and District War Memorial Hospital and aims to remind the community of the large contingent of Rochester and district men and women who went to the war.

The project has been made possible through a $20,000 grant from the Victorian government announced just under 12 months ago.

Rochester RSL sub-branch president John Glover told the Campaspe News in 2016 the sculptures would help to tell the story of the district’s war heroes for now and into the future.

‘‘Few people would be aware that of the nearly 1,000 citizens from the former Shire of Rochester who enlisted in WWI, seven were nurses,’’ he said.

‘‘These ladies served with devotion and distinction in India, Egypt, the Middle East, England and France and deservedly earned the title referred to in Charles Bean’s ANZAC Requiem, ‘in much more than name, the sisters of our fighting men’.

‘‘I guess we thought it would be nice to represent how it was — that the nurse would help the soldiers heal and then help them walk out of there.’’

The war memorial hospital was established in 1962 in tribute to those who served in WWII.

A name change followed amalgamation with Elmore District Hospital in 1993 but the focus on providing quality health care to residents of the local community did not change.

The plaque that sits next to the sculptures says, ‘‘figures of a soldier and nurse symbolise much to those who have served in conflict’’.

It adds: ‘‘Hospitals are havens of healing and sanctuaries of safety, security and succour to those who have been wounded in combat.

‘‘A soldier walking out of this hospital denotes recovery, rehabilitation and return to normal life and health.

‘‘The nurse depicts so many who sacrificed so much to ensure the welfare of our wounded personnel of all services.’’

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