Sylvia was the oldest child of Dr. and Mrs. Reginald Sturridge, and was born in Blackheath, South London. She was brought up in the doctor’s house at 60 Teignmouth Road, Willesden Green, and went to school at Francis Holland near Baker Street.
Sylvia began her training to became a nurse at St Thomas’s Hospital on April 4th 1939, five months before the beginning of the Second World War. The nurses were required to become proficient in 70 separate categories, all to be signed off by the sister in charge. This included everything from Bedmaking to Blisters, Mustard Leaves, Ice-bags, Leeches and Suction Cups.
In Spring of 1941, after destruction of the hospital by bombing, 350 beds were built in hutments for the hospital in Hydestile, near Godalming in Surrey. Sylvia and some other ‘pioneers’ were sent there to prepare, and run the new country hospital. Sylvia worked her way up to become a Sister and qualified in May 1942. In the Summer of 1942, Sylvia was posted to Botleys Park Hospital, in Chertsey, Surrey, which was used for an overflow for St. Thomas’s. Later the staff returned to the bomb damaged St Thomas’s and Sylvia looked after many wounded servicemen there. Sylvia had met a young doctor from St Bartholomew’s hospital (Barts), Richard (Dick) Brewerton, who she fell for and married in August 1942. She continued nursing until she became pregnant with her first child, and retired from St. Thomas’s in Summer 1943. She later went on to have three further children.
Sylvia did a huge amount of voluntary work, helping with riding for disabled children, looking after the visitors’ children at the local prison, collecting for the British Legion and providing “meals on wheels” in her village of Chipperfield, Hertfordshire.