Sir Mick Jagger’s wink strikes a chord with nurse

PUBLISHED: 14:24 27 February 2011

Stella Cheetham. Search's for answers about a park bench.

Stella Cheetham. Search's for answers about a park bench.

Archant

A ST ALBANS woman can’t get no satisfaction in trying to solve a mystery about a connection between iconic frontman of the Rolling Stones, Sir Mick Jagger, and a student nurse.

According to a plaque on a memorial bench in Highfield Park, the pouty-lipped, hip-shaking showman made quite an impression on trainee nurse Emma Bowring after winking at her – an action that obviously left an impact and became a defining moment in the rock’n’roll lover’s life.

Park-goer Stella Cheetham has enlisted the help of the Herts Advertiser and BBC Three Counties Radio to establish the background of the interesting inscription she spotted on a bench in a commemorative garden at the park recalling that flirtatious action.

It reads: “In memory of pupil nurse Emma Bowring ‘Mick Jagger winked at me’ with thanks for all you gave us.”

A curious Stella said the unusual epitaph had, “conjured up this image of this 1960s nurse who had this anecdote of meeting Mick Jagger and that moment became what other people remembered about her. I saw it and thought ‘oh wow, that is fantastic’.”

Stella wants to know: “Who was ‘pupil nurse Emma Bowring’? What happened to her and when and where did the Rolling Stones singer wink at her?

“Since I spotted those few touching, faded words these and many other questions have been spinning through my mind, and I’m determined to find some answers.

“Whoever put the bench there and put that wording has shown a great insight into something, and what a great way to remember someone. I would love to know what the story is.”

Highfield Park was created on the former grounds of two mental hospitals: Hill End Hospital at the northern end, open from 1900 until 1995; and Cell Barnes Hospital in the southern part, which was open from 1933 until 1998. Also, during the Second World War St Bartholomew’s Hospital was relocated to Hill End Hospital to treat war-wounded and Londoners injured during the Blitz.

The bench is in the Hill End Hospital Community Garden, one of five gardens at the park. So, the question is did Emma work at one of these hospitals?

Stella, a human resources consultant who admitted she wasn’t a huge fan of Mick Jagger, continued: “I can only assume Emma died young and must have been training as a nurse, and I don’t know whether she died when working at the hospital or much later but someone must have put up the bench and knows the story behind it.”

Apart from conducting internet research, Stella and friend Ian Hembrow, of Oxford, have also approached Highfield Park Trust to help unravel the mystery. The Trust had no information so an appeal has been posted on the organisation’s ‘Out of Sight Out of Mind?’ website, which has memories, history and photos about this area’s former mental hospitals.

While genealogy and archive sites have also provided no clues about Emma, Stella and Ian did discover that the Rolling Stones performed at the Odeon Theatre in St Albans in 1963.

They’ve asked Herts Ad readers to help “shine some light on this young woman, her work and her rock’n’roll claim to fame.” If you have any information, please email Stella at: findemma@live.co.uk

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