Tributes for woman 'ahead of her time' who trained generations of Burnley nurses

A retired nurse, seen as someone who was  'ahead of her time' after she rose through the ranks of the profession, has died at the age of 98.
Miss Mary Schofield, who trained hundreds of nurses in Burnley, has died at the age of 98.Miss Mary Schofield, who trained hundreds of nurses in Burnley, has died at the age of 98.
Miss Mary Schofield, who trained hundreds of nurses in Burnley, has died at the age of 98.

Miss Mary Schofield was appointed as Burnley's principal nursing officer in 1966.

She was in charge of 650 nurses across eight hospitals, including Burnley General, Victoria, Marsden, Bank Hall, Heasandford Manor, Hartley and Grove Continuation.

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Devoted to her role, Miss Schofield was lauded for her professionalism throughout her amazing career. During her years as matron at Burnley General Hospital she trained and mentored generations of the town's nurses.

Miss Schofield in her nursing daysMiss Schofield in her nursing days
Miss Schofield in her nursing days

She retired in 1977 and Mrs Glenis Dewane, who worked under Miss Schofield as a ward sister, said no one wanted her to leave.

Mrs Dewane, who later became a friend and neighbour of Miss Schofield's, said: "She was strict but fair and always absolutely immaculate. Everyone loved working with her.

"She really was a wonderful and special lady."

Haslingden born Miss Schofield attended the grammar school there before leaving at 16 to start her nurse training 'on the job' with tubercolosis patients at Grassington Santorium. At 18 she moved to the Leeds General Infirmary where after six years training she was awarded her full certificate.

Miss Schofield rose to become Burnley's Principal Nursing OfficerMiss Schofield rose to become Burnley's Principal Nursing Officer
Miss Schofield rose to become Burnley's Principal Nursing Officer
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She then took a job at Monsall Fever Hospital Manchester where they treated diseases that mostly don't exist now such as scarlet fever, measles, typhoid, infectious diseases. There were 450 beds and Miss Schofield did one year fever training then went to Bolton to study midwifery for six months

She then came to Burnley to work at the now closed Marsden Hospital, which was formerly an infectious diseases hospital. From there Miss Schofield went to Stockport Cherry Tree Fever Hospital as a night sister for 18 months and then back to Burnley as assistant matron at the fever hospital.

Miss Schofield had a spell working at Burnley Victoria as assistant matron befoe she was appointed as matron at the 240 bed Kettering Hospital in Northamptonshire where she remained for four years.

She returned to Burnley General in 1962 as deputy matron and was appointed principal nursing officer in 1966 for Burnley after an NHS re-organisation.

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After her retirement Miss Schofield enjoyed several holidays to places all over the world including Egypt, Indonesia, India and Japan. She took the trips with a good friend she had made who worked at Burnley General as a receptionist. Miss Schofield also spent a month every year in the South of France.

A volunteer at Oxfam and Pendleside Hospice charity shops, Miss Schofield was a lifelong Burnley fan and also an active member of the soroptimists organisation.

Whenever she saw nurses she had worked with Miss Schofield always remembered their names. And everyone, even friends, called her Miss Schofield.

Miss Schofield's cousin, Sue West, said she was someone who was very much 'on the ball' right until the end of her life.

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She said: " She was independent and very active and managed her own home and finances right up until her death. Her home was always spotless and well organised. She needed a little help during the Covid lockdown and was very appreciative of the support she received from her neighbours.

"Mary was quiet and modest and always immaculately turned out.

"She enjoyed listening to others and she particularly enjoyed hearing about travel and a bit of gossip – though she always kept her opinions to herself. She also had a great sense of humour."

Until this year Miss Schofield had a regular routine of getting up and going into town or on the bus every morning except Sunday when she cleaned her home from top to bottom.

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Sue added: "She enjoyed seeing her many friends and former colleagues around Burnley.

"She was disciplined in her diet and habits and took good care of herself. Right up until her death she was interested and interesting, and as a family we were very fond of her .

"We think she was a rather amazing lady and feel lucky to have had her in our lives for so long."

A private family funeral will be held for Miss Schofield next Tuesday (August 25th) and the cortege will pass Burnley General Hospital, to give people who worked with and knew her the chance to pay their respects. The cortege will leave Fred Hamer's funeral directors in Briercliffe Road at 1-45pm.

Donations are being accepted in Miss Schofield's memory to Pendleside Hospice by ringing 01282 440100