All posts by Ai Ya Sister!

This is Your Life

Sister Caswell surprised her friend and colleague, British Red Cross ambulance driver David Ellaway on ‘This is Your Life’ (Season 26 Episode 8) back in 1985. Presenter: Eamonn Andrews.

I remember going with my parents and sister to London to film this episode. The trip lasted three days, it was my first trip to London and I was very excited. We visited Buckingham Palace, my dad was disappointed that we weren’t able to see the changing of the guard. Most memorably we were staying in the Ibis hotel, my mum and dad had their own room and my sister and I shared a room. I was curious about the lock on the door and noticed a delay in locking the door from the inside and wondered what would happen if I locked it from the inside and the outside at the same time. The result was that the key didn’t work anymore and the hotel staff came and took the door off to enter the room. We weren’t allowed to sleep in a separate room to our parents after that!

I also remember eating a meal with the other members of the 1974 Red Cross team in the hotel restaurant. The starter was melon, it was a WHOLE melon with ice inside. After eating the melon I had no room for the main meal of chicken in gravy and my sister and I were sent to bed! Margaret Carrington gave me a clippy kangaroo with red plastic boxing gloves and my sister got a clippy koala toy with a yellow plastic hat with the Australian flag on it.

During the filming we sat up very high in the audience with my dad. I remember a guy in a silver suit telling jokes prior to the show starting. After the filming we went to a wrap party. I met Eamon Andrews, I also swiped the last brown bread bun just before one of the other guests could grasp it.

The Baja Boy Is Dying

The Baja Boy is Dying

The Baja Boy  is dying, that’s what they said to me,
And they took me by the hand and led me there to see.
To where he sat on seat of mat, still and very cold ,
At just one, year the wizened face of a man so very old.

Silent, rounded, swollen eyes staring way past me,
Flies crusted round his nose and hands.
He did not move, he could not move just stared across the sands,
With milk, with food, with tender care, him surely we can  save .

It seemed after all, only fair, that a tiny boy so brave.
So we resolved at least to try to save this little one
But when we came back just four hours past

The baja boy had gone

David Ellaway, 1985 (d. 2005)

Ambulance driver with the Emergency British Red Cross Team in Ethiopia, with Sister Elizabeth Caswell (1974)

Nursing on the hottest place on earth.

My amazing mum was part of the British Red Cross Emergency Rescue team who went out to Ethiopia in 1974, during a terrible famine. Here she is in a ‘pop up’ clinic, in the middle of the Danakil desert (the hottest place on earth).  

Dandakil Desert, Ethiopia. July 1974

“That day we set up a clinic and I had measured out some gentian violet and then a dust storm blew up. You had to squat down and cover your head, I put a sharma (white shawl) over my head. You just had to wait it out. When the sandstorm blew away, a goat had drunk all of my gentian violet.”, Sister Elizabeth Caswell, July 1974.


On the 12th February 1974 the British Red Cross team met for the first time at the British Red Cross Head Quarters. Other Red Cross teams from Germany, New Zealand, Finland , Australia were also taking part as part of the International Red Cross’ mission. The British team lasted the longest.

The only members of the team who had worked abroad before were Sister Caswell and Margaret Carrington.