'Nurse Gladys' and friend a couple of camp stars

By Lin Ferguson, lin.ferguson@wanganuichronicle.co.nz

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About 8000 gay revellers at the annual Vinegar Hill camp are being ably looked after on the medical front by paramedic Andy, aka "Nurse Gladys", and an accident and emergency nurse, Andrew.

The two medics from Wellington have so far helped with the recovery of a man who nearly drowned and say if they had to, they could perform minor surgery from their tent.

Over the past week, as well as the near drowning there have been insect bites including a few spider bites, cuts, abrasions and grazes and the odd sun-induced headache, they said.

This week a man was swimming in the Rangitikei River beside the camp when he was dragged into a fast current near the middle of the river.

"The middle of the river can be quite dangerous," Andy said.

The man recovered very quickly, he added.

Both men are from Wellington and though they are at the camp to rest and recuperate in the idyllic riverside setting, they decided their medical prowess should be utilised.

"Well, with so many campers coming in here now we decided it was a wise and sensible move. Accidents do happen and we're right here if they do," said Andy.

The Wellington friends - they are not a couple - say they both love their work and are very happy to give back to the Vinegar Hill Gay Community camp which they have been coming to for 10 years.

"It is so relaxing, always a load of fun catching with so many friends from throughout New Zealand. It's really special. Everyone here loves it and has a great time.

"We spend as much time here as we can over Christmas/New Year period."

In the evenings when Nurse Gladys is out and about in the bright lights she wears her genuine mid-blue 1940s hospital sister's outfit complete with veil, Andy said. "It's so gorgeous."

But Nurse Gladys has issued a warning on the community notice board. As well as giving directions to her medical centre she reminds campers that because she is on duty 24/7 there will be times in the evening when a gin or two has been consumed.

"But no one minds, they all understand ... no choice I'm afraid."

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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