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Musgrove Park Hospital's 70th birthday: Girl who sang for GIs returns

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: September 04, 2012

  • Jenny Smith in front of a photograph of herself as a nine-year-old in 1942 when she entertained injured American forces at Musgrove Park Hospital

  • Katie Neale, Sophie Groves, Chris Smith and Josie Nott

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It began life tending wartime servicemen, and when Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, celebrated its 70th birthday the little girl who sang and danced for their entertainment was back to celebrate.

Jenny Stockman was nine in 1942 when she sang swing and big band numbers to American and British troops.

She went on to become a dance teacher and professional entertainer in London, married, and eventually returned to her home town.

Yesterday Jenny, 79, now Mrs Smith, joined staff and patients at a wartime-themed party to celebrate the hospital’s anniversary.

She recalled how a piano was wheeled through the corridors so uplifting music could reach all patients. And she remembered the kindness of staff and patients who provided a three-tiered cake “with layers of fresh cream”, despite wartime austerity, so that she could celebrate her ninth birthday in style.

“The American soldiers were very generous and I had some lovely letters from them with presents and chocolates,” she said.

Musgrove Park became a general NHS hospital in 1951.

PHOTO SPECIAL

Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, celebrates its 70th birthday

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