Stella Ward with James Lynch
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James Lynch was admitted to Tauranga Hospital in 1957 where he stayed in bed paralysed in Tauranga Hospital for over 40 years. James inspired many with his sense of humour, his strong Catholic faith, positive attitude and sharp mind. He was paralysed aged 14. When visiting on- board the HMS Veronica he went to help a sailor he came across in the Gun Room who was holding a live wire.
The current passed through James, paralysing him and over the following years his body slowly deteriorated.
Registered Nurse, Stella Ward, (now retired), was one of many staff members who looked after James during his time at the hospital.
“One day when I was washing him he surprised me when he said out of the blue, ‘I’ve had such a good life’.
I was stunned for a minute. ‘Do you think so James, with all that’s happened?’ I asked him. ‘Well I’ve never had any pain and I’ve never been bored. I’ve had such a good life,’ he replied. “He used to celebrate his birthday in November and one day he’d been thinking and said, ‘I’m sure my mother didn’t die in the 1918 Influenza Epidemic but in 1919’, and he wanted to get a copy of his birth certificate. So we got in touch with the local Registry Office but couldn’t find any record of his birth and that really upset him. We were told that some people weren’t registered at birth but when they went to school so we applied to his old school, Tauranga District School, and we found his entry in the archives,” says Stella.
“When he was six years old his grandfather had enrolled him and his birthday was in fact 20 August 1918. ‘I’ve been reading Scorpio (horoscope) to you all these years and you’re a Leo!’ A local lawyer applied for his birth certificate and that became one of his prized treasures.
“I used to take him to the movies and he liked action and cowboy movies. He used to get so excited he’d shake.
If he had had a normal life he would be an accountant he told me once. He’d lie there and count cars and trucks going past his window within ten minutes and how many in an hour. He was a lovely man,” says Stella.
James Lynch died peacefully at Tauranga Hospital in May 2001.
Download the Tauranga Hospital Centenary (1914-2014) book, archived at https://perma.cc/D52U-2JM2.