Dorothy Gladys White 1916 – 2008
From the Parish News – September 2008
Many of the "middle-aged" residents in the locality do not realise that probably the first face they saw in their life was that of Nurse White!
Dorothy White, better known locally as "Nurse" White, came to Norfolk in 1951 as District Nurse covering the area of Harleston: Alburgh, Earsham, Denton and Wortwell. She was born in the East End of London and although it is said she was not the brightest in the family, she took up nursing and trained at Waltham Cross hospital, where she was soon to be respected, and became a great support to other trainee nurses. After completing her training in mid-wifery in Birmingham, she had a while practising in Somerset before settling finally in Norfolk. Her first home here was a bungalow in Denton, opposite the Village Hall, where she lived with her mother who looked after the house, making sure that meals were prepared. Later a nurses' house was built in Earsham, (next to the police house) where she and her mother lived until her ageing mother needed too much attention, when Nurse took early retirement and they moved to a bungalow in Wortwell.
Dorothy was meticulous in her work, and often the first impression of her was of a very stern and hard woman, but under this hard exterior was a very soft and charitable personality. She and her mother both knitted baby clothes and blankets for new babies she had delivered, and helped with clothing for needy families. She really enjoyed the mid-wifery side of her work, her strong sense of duty made her very outspoken if things were not to her liking when she could "explode like Krakatoa" if she felt the need, Dr. Maidment of Bungay said that the local G.P.s were afraid of her! However "Her Babies" were special to her, and Mum's could also get a cuddle from her if the birth was prolonged.
She campaigned hard to save the Ditchingham Hospital, and actually corresponded with the Queen Mother, seeking her support. She was invited and attended a Buckingham Palace Garden Party.
Dorothy was a very committed Christian, and worshiped regularly at St. John's Church, Harleston. As you would expect she held some very strong views, the Vicar of Harleston, Rev David Jackson, said in his address that they were "sparring partners" on many occasions. Dorothy eventually moved into sheltered accommodation in Terence Airey Court in Harleston and in later years was confined mainly to a wheelchair. She died aged 92 in the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital on July 23rd.
She is remembered with affection by many patients. A truly dedicated nurse.