A WRITER has inspired residents post-lockdown by publishing an account of her year-long stay in hospital with tuberculosis in the 1960s.

Barbara Salter, from Runcorn, was expected to spend three weeks in Crossley Hospital in Frodsham when she was diagnosed aged 13 in 1959.

But she ended up staying in the sanatorium for an entire year.

The now 75-year-old published her memoir Bed Absolute: A Teenage Diary of TB in the 1960s in April, detailing her experience of suffering from the disease at a time when the first effective treatment had only just become available on the NHS.

During lockdown, Barbara came across her old diaries from her hospital stay when sorting through a box of old papers.

Runcorn and Widnes World:

She said: “Reading them made me think about all the young people feeling as trapped and bored at home during the covid lockdowns as I had been in hospital then.

“I decided to turn the diaries into a book to let people know that life does come bouncing back.”

Barbara was the youngest patient of the adult hospital and spent the first months of her stay entirely bedbound.

Her memoir discusses how she met people from all walks of life as an inpatient, including a prostitute and two sailors from China.

She said: “I had to grow up fast.

“Some of the attitudes then might shock readers nowadays, but I found a way through somehow.

“I learnt about life and how to survive – I even managed to have fun at times.”

Runcorn and Widnes World:

Barbara in the 1960s

After being discharged from hospital in December 1960, Barbara found further trouble waiting for her at home.

Her dad, a Second World War veteran, was struggling with alcoholism and facing trial for fraud.

Missing a year of school during her hospital visit meant that she had lost 12 months of education and was separated from her friends.

Barbara now lives in Oxfordshire, has been awarded a CBE and has since had a successful career as a civil servant.

She is due to give talks to local history groups in Cheshire in 2022 and national museum the Wellcome Collection will include her diaries and books in its archives.

The author added: “I hope my diaries will strike a chord with others who have also felt their lives have been put on hold for any reason.

“I know 13-year-olds today are unlikely to read as much as I did at their age, but if they read my book they might be surprised to find out not only how much life has changed but also how much teenage angst hasn’t.”

Bed Absolute: A Teenager’s Diary of TB in the 1960s is available to purchase from Amazon.