It was the beginning of a relationship that would go on to forever change the lives of thousands. Yet when the then Catherine Nicholson met Reginald Hamlin, there was little to indicate that the two doctors would be embarking on an epic journey which would span decades and continents.
An Unmissable Opportunity
In 1948, at the age of 24, Catherine heard of a resident’s position opening up at Crown Street Women’s Hospital in Sydney for the previous two yers, Catherine had been working as a medical intern – first at St Joseph’s Hospital and then at the St George Hospital. At the time, Crown Street held a sterling reputation as the largest maternity hospital in New South Wales; as such, the opportunity to work there was one which Catherine could not miss.
After applying for the job, Catherine had gained an interview for the position. Her mother provided moral support and waited outside during the meeting. In a large, plain office, Catherine was interviewed by the medical superintendent at Crown Street.
His name was Dr Reginald Hamlin.
The King of Crown Street
In The Hospital By the River, her autobiography written with John Little, Catherine recalls her first impressions of Reg: “he was of medium height with a good strong jaw, wavy brown hair, blue eyes and a Roman nose.”
Their interview was honest and warm. At the time of her interview, Catherine wasn’t sure if she wanted to specialise in obstetrics paediatrics. Reg insisted that due to the competitive nature of positions at Crown Street, she would need to find a specialisation she was sure she wanted to pursue; the difficulty of obstetrics required total dedication.
Catherine was impressive in her interview – Reg offered her the position that very day. He proceeded to take Catherine on a tour of the hospital and residents’ living quarters. At the end of the tour, Catherine’s mother charged Reg to “take good care of my daughter.”
Reg’s response? A chuckle and the assurance that she would remain in safe hands at the hospital. Thus began the Hamlins’ love story – how they fell in love is a story for another week.
Catherine and Reg did take good care of each other for many years to come. In the process, the created a pioneering surgical technique to repair obstetric fistula. This technique is still used today and Catherine and her team have helped treat over 60,000 patients.
The Story Continues…
From student to surgeon to STEM icon. Learn more about the incredible life of Dr Catherine Hamlin with our limited edition photobook ‘Dr Catherine Hamlin AC – the Saint of Addis Ababa‘. This collector’s item is a special commemoration for Catherine’s 60th Anniversary in Ethiopia and traces her story from adolescence to today.
You can get your limited edition copy here.