Margaret's memories of "tall girl" who made world headlines

Margaret Morris of Oswestry was delighted to read our recent feature about a Shropshire hospital's groundbreaking 1960s surgery to reduce the height of a tall girl which made international headlines – because she was in the next bed to her.

Anne Rowston learning to walk again on sticks at Oswestry's Orthopaedic Hospital after her height-reducing operations.
Anne Rowston learning to walk again on sticks at Oswestry's Orthopaedic Hospital after her height-reducing operations.

Mrs Morris was recovering at the Oswestry Orthopaedic Hospital from serious injuries suffered in a road crash when she crossed paths with Anne Rowston, whose 6ft seven and a half inches height was reduced by more than six inches in a series of operations.

"I was in the next bed to her and we did our physio together," said Mrs Morris, who lived back then in Selattyn.

"I was in for three months following a serious road accident. I often think about her and wonder where she is now. I do know she didn't have any further operations.

"Although it was such a long time ago – I was 22, and am 78 now – reading about it, it seems like only yesterday. I was thrilled to read the article. I couldn't believe it."

Anne was 19 when she went into the Shropshire hospital in September 1964, and it was not until the following June that she went home, following four operations to shorten her legs.

Mrs Morris was a passenger in a car when she was in a road crash on the Oswestry to Selattyn road on February 5, 1965, and suffered multiple fractures. In those days she worked at Hands chemist's in Oswestry, and was the unmarried Miss Morris, Morris also being her maiden name.

She went first to the Orthopaedic, and was transferred to Shrewsbury hospital because it was suspected she had internal injuries, and then transferred back to the Orthopaedic where she was put in traction.

"I actually went to theatre to have a plate put in my broken arm on the day of my 22nd birthday, February 25, 1965.

"My vivid memory of Anne was seeing her walking on the ward, and she was taller than the curtains. We were on Gladstone ward.

"She was very, very apprehensive, as you can imagine. Once she had the operation and got over the operation it was all down to physio and getting her mobile again.

"She did not say an awful lot. She was quite a shy person. I suppose it was due to being so tall that made her rather shy.

"I think in the very early stages she said she wished she had not had it done, probably due to the pain and discomfort she was in. Once she knew she was going to be able to walk again, she was okay.

"At the time it was a massive thing. I can remember the television crews coming and filming her."

Mrs Morris says Anne, who hailed from Hyde in Cheshire, took the attention in her stride.

"Having shortened her legs, she was out of proportion, and they did discuss the possibility of shortening her arms. I'm pretty sure, although I can't say 100 per cent, that she never had any more surgery."

Mrs Morris left the hospital before Anne.

"We didn't keep in touch. I was sorry we didn't exchange addresses. I always thought about her and wondered what did become of her. When I became the owner of an iPad I googled 'girl who was shortened in the hospital' and a little bit came up, but nothing very much.

"I recovered. It took me a long time. I used to have physio for many months and was on crutches for a long time."

She was at the chemist for 13 years and later she and her late husband Doug Morris ran an antiques shop in Oswestry called Parker's Patch – Parker was his middle name. Doug was also the founder member of the Oswestry Olympians.

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