Tributes to midwife called to 900 births

Sister Kendrew
Sister Kendrew

A well-known Partney woman who delivered 900 babies as a midwife, and who nursed soldiers returning from Dunkirk, has died.

Elsie Kendrew died on New Year’s Day, aged 96, at Eresby Hall Care Home, in Spilsby.

A dedicated nurse and midwife, she worked at the Grace Swan Hospital and The Gables Hospital in Hundleby.

Sister Elsie touched the hearts of many people in and around Spilsby, delivering in excess of 900 babies, and could still recall many of their names, showing an interest in them and their families as they grew into adults.

Her close friend Cei Pepper told The Standard: “Elsie has spent many an hour reminiscing and regaling us with stories of the war years, severe winters and the east coast floods of the 1950s, and characters she met through her nursing career.

“It is the end of an era.”

Raised in Yorkshire until she was 19, Elsie left to go into the Civil Nursing Service for 18 months, nursing injured soldiers from Dunkirk.

Once she was old enough, she began her general nursing training at The Royal Infirmary, Sheffield, where she obtained a gold medal in her senior nursing exam.

In 1947 she moved to St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, in order to complete her midwifery training.

In October, 1948, just when the NHS took over from voluntary contributions, she took up the post of midwifery sister at The Grace Swan Hospital, where she set up an antenatal clinic and a labour ward.

She was also a ward sister and a theatre sister, later taking charge of nursing at the Grace Swan.

Before retiring at the end of 1979, she became nursing officer for both the Grace Swan Hospital and The Gables Hospital.