Catherine – The Early Years

Elinor ‘Catherine’ Nicholson was born in 1924 and raised in the Sydney suburb of Ryde, at The Hermitage, built by John Blaxland in 1842. One of six children of Elinor and Theodore Nicholson, she went to Frensham School in Mittagong before attending the University of Sydney and graduating from its Medical School in 1946.

Courtship at Crown Street

After internships at St Joseph’s Hospital, Auburn, and St George’s Hospital, Kogarah, Catherine became a resident in obstetrics at Crown Street Women’s Hospital. In 1950, she married Dr Reginald Hamlin who at the time was the medical superintendent at Crown Street.

Dr Val Colley worked alongside Reg and Catherine at Crown Street Women’s Hospital in the late 1940s before they moved to begin their work in Ethiopia. Val still has enormous respect for the two of them and their work, and has left a bequest for Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia in her Will. Val remembers the early days of Reg and Catherine’s courtship when they were trying to keep it a secret. “Catherine would sometimes leave work before Reg and wait for him down the road so they could go to dinner together,” she remembers. “They thought they were keeping it a secret but everybody knew and we were all so happy for them.”

Read more of Catherine’s stories in the limited edition photo book ‘Dr Catherine Hamlin AC: The Saint of Addis Ababa‘; get yours here.

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