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Gift honours century-long connection with nursing work

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For Ringwood East resident Marjory Turnham, her family connection with Bolton Clarke’s District Nurses started long before she was born.

Marjory’s grandmother Lucy Marianne Smith was one of the first Melbourne (later Royal) District Nursing Society (RDNS) nurses, joining the service in 1893 when nurses still travelled on foot to visit patients.

Lucy, who grew up in the UK, was a 17-year-old orphan when she and her older sister commenced their nurse training under Florence Nightingale in 1876.

Only 20 years had passed since Nightingale revolutionised hospital conditions and the treatment of soldiers during the Crimean War. Fittingly, her student was also to play an important role in caring for soldiers and their families through her contribution to the history of RDNS, which merged with RSL Care to become Bolton Clarke.

Today, Marjory remains a long-term supporter of Bolton Clarke and the work of the District Nurses and has followed the organisation’s growth closely.

“My mother told me many times how Grandma had been inspired by Florence Nightingale,” she says.

“Apparently, she was strict with the nurses - but she was a great teacher, and obviously a wonderful example.

“Mum had a lot of special treatments she’d been taught by Lucy, my grandmother.

“The link with the ongoing work is very strong – it means a lot to me that I’m connected with something that is doing so much for people.”

Marjory, whose daughter continued the family’s nursing tradition, is a long-term Bolton Clarke donor who started giving after her mother gave me a book of the organisation’s history and her grandmother’s role.

She said while much had changed over the years, the commitment to care had remained.

“The ability of the nurses to travel by bike and subsequently by car has been a major change, as has the advance in the medical and nursing equipment they bring to patients. The uniforms the nurses wear have also changed considerably over the years!

“I am proud to think that the home-based nursing services my grandmother was involved with in the 1890s is still operating and that the current nurses are carrying on the tradition of care that has been a hallmark of Bolton Clarke and RDNS over 130 years.”

“I wanted to ensure the pioneering work undertaken by my grandmother will continue.”

Marjory is among supporters who have included a bequest to Bolton Clarke in their Will.

September 5-11 is Include a Charity Week. Find out more at Home - Include a Charity in your Will.