To celebrate the publication of her new book Letters from Alice, we asked author Petrina Banfield to tell us 5 things about her she'd like all of her readers to know!

Petrina Banfield opens up for her readers

Petrina Banfield opens up for her readers

5) I trained as an auxiliary nurse

Thoughts of being a writer had always lurked at the back of my mind, but since it seemed a pretty unlikely dream, I decided to pursue what I considered to be a more attainable ambition and signed up for nurse training. I started as an auxiliary when I left school to get some experience, and boy did I get it! On my second day at the hospital I was asked to assist one of the nurses. ‘Ever seen a dead body before, dear?’ she asked breezily as she took me into a side room where a recently departed elderly woman lay. The floor began to sway beneath my feet as soon as I stepped over the threshold. I just couldn’t shake the weird sense that the patient might suddenly sit up and talk to me. It was my first inkling that I might not have the stomach for the job.

4) I once found £2000 cash in an elderly patient’s knickers!

Still passionate about hospital work but too flaky to complete nurse training, I got a job in the finance department of a local hospital. One of my duties was to record and secure patient property, and I was often called over to A&E because elderly patients had a habit of grabbing all their valuables whenever they came into hospital, for fear of being burgled while away from home. One day I was summoned to count bundles of cash that an elderly lady had stashed in her knickers. I donned a pair of latex gloves and was stunned to count over £2000!

3) I’ve taken phone calls from psychic mediums and water diviners

I used to work for Surrey Police and besides managing the CID office (one minute I’d be taking orders for highlighter pens from dozens of officers, next thing I knew they’d be grabbing their jackets and flying out the door) and assisting detectives on the Major Crime Team, I manned the phone lines whenever major incidents occurred. We regularly took calls from spirit mediums who wanted to pass on clues from the hereafter. Water diviners often rang in to ‘assist’ as well.

2) I’m a foster carer

I’ve been fostering for about ten years and in that time I’ve looked after newborns, teens and everything in between. There have been challenges along the way, but after caring for sibling groups, babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, cerebral palsy, ADHD, PDA, autism and foetal alcohol syndrome, I’ve learned so much. I love writing, but for fulfilment, there’s no job in the world that beats fostering.

1) I met David and Victoria Beckham at Legoland

So, there I was with some children at the entrance to the theme park in Windsor, when I spotted a family in front of me surrounded by several beefy bodyguards. I didn’t think much

of it until a man emerged from the crowd and began chatting to my daughter, Hannah, who was about four at the time. ‘She’s so cute,’ he said to me, and though I wasn’t much of a football fan, even I recognised the winning smile of Mr Beckham.

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Petrina Banfield's new book Letters from Alice is out now.


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