Tributes to respected Burnley and Pendle paediatrician Dr Helen Turner

A highly respected doctor, paediatrician and community health champion who dedicated her life to the people of Burnley and Pendle has died at the age of 94.
Dr Helen TurnerDr Helen Turner
Dr Helen Turner

Dr Helen Turner helped to set up the Reedley Hall Children's Development Centre, among many other achievements in her long and respected career. She also served as a GP in Colne, as well as helping to set up assessment centres for children, Gibfield special school in Pendle and a family planning clinic in Colne.

Her late husband, Dr Winston Turner, also a respected paediatrician, was honoured when a children's ward at Burnley General Hospital was named in his honour. The couple gave more than 100 years service to medicine between them.

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Born in Tunbridge Wells, Helen attended Hamilton House private day school but wartime dogfights in the skies above Kent made the area a perilous place and she went to stay with two of her father’s sisters who ran a school in Newton Abbott.

A keen tennis player in her younger years, Helen was also an accomplished actress who had trod the boards as an understudy in the West End. She finally decided to pursue a career in medicine rather than acting however and went to the London (Royal Free Hospital) School of Medicine for Women, now part of UCL medical school.

She qualified in 1950 and worked on the Isle of Wight, the Isle of Sheppey and the West London hospital where she was to be the paediatric house officer and met the love of her life Winston who was working there as a registrar.

They married in 1953 and after the honeymoon moved to Burnley. They eventually settled in Laneshaw Bridge where Helen died peacefully surrounded by her family.

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She leaves children Judith, Mark and Claire, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Grandaughter Kate Jackson said: "Gran was very well-known and respected throughout East Lancashire for her medical work. She was an inspirational lady who was very caring but also very modest about her achievements.

"She liked to enjoy herself and loved family gatherings."

Her funeral was held at St Michael's Church, Foulridge, before cremation at Burnley.

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