Ethel’s 60 years’ service to Holbeach St Marks Royal British Legion

Ethel with her certificate marking her long service with The Royal British Legion. SG051116-203TW
Ethel with her certificate marking her long service with The Royal British Legion. SG051116-203TW

Retired hospital matron Ethel Whitehurst (94) has just been recognised for her 60 years’ service as a welfare officer in The Royal British Legion.

Ethel, who lives in Holbeach, was presented with a certificate to mark her long service by Lincolnshire Royal British Legion chairman Tony Goodwin.

Branch secretary Janette Newell with county chairman Tony Goodwin (right) and branch chairman Peter Savory. SG051116-201TW

Branch secretary Janette Newell with county chairman Tony Goodwin (right) and branch chairman Peter Savory. SG051116-201TW

While Ethel is pleased to have reached the milestone, she is going to carry on with her voluntary work with Holbeach St Marks branch.

She celebrates her 95th birthday in August.

Following the presentation at Saracen’s Head Village Hall, Ethel says she has remained in the legion to help people where she can rather than seek recognition for herself.

Branch chairman Peter Savory described Ethel as “a stalwart” and branch secretary Janette Newell said: “She is kind hearted and she always helps wherever she can.”

Ethel worked as a district nurse and midwife from 1949 to 1964, when she switched to Holbeach Hospital as her permanent base.

She was matron there from 1973 until her retirement in 1981.

It was while out on her travels as a district nurse that the then chairman of Holbeach St Marks Royal British Legion asked her a question.

Ethel said: “He stopped me and asked would I be interested in joining the legion.

“I said I have never been in the forces but he said that doesn’t matter.”

Ethel wanted to know why she was being asked to join and the chairman explained that, as she went into people’s houses, she would be the ideal person to let the branch know if anyone needed help.

“I was married of course and I spoke to my husband about it and he said do it if you want to,” she said.

Ethel decided to join and says: “It’s a small branch and I knew the people very well with being the district nurse.”

Ethel’s husband Edmund, known as Eddie, died in 1997. She has two sons and three grandchildren, one of whom is following in her footsteps in medicine as a paediatric consultant.

• Janette organised the presentation to Ethel ... and was quite surprised to be honoured the same day for her own ten years’ service.

Janette (53) was introduced to the legion when her dad, Tony Gregory, was branch chairman of Holbeach St Marks and found himself without a secretary.

Mr Savory said: “She’s a great help to the branch and, in certain ways, she is the branch.

“If there’s something going on, she’s normally in the middle of it somewhere.”

Janette, known as Nettie, said not many people get the 60 year award but she knew Ethel was coming up for the milestone as she recalled the presentation for her 50th.

Following the presentation to Ethel, it was announced there was one more award to be made.

Janette was left wondering who that could be and it turned out to be her.