The late Miriam Hutchinson, Matron of Gympie Hospital, 1967-1985.
The late Miriam Hutchinson, Matron of Gympie Hospital, 1967-1985.

Gympie Hospital Matron a respected figure in nursing

MIRIAM Gwendoline Hutchinson was born in Portarlington in Southern Ireland on June 18, 1925 and educated at the local school before going to boarding school in Dublin.

In 1943 Miriam commenced her nursing training at St George's Hospital in London.

Following her general training, Miriam went to Brighton to do her midwifery training - although a reluctant starter she enjoyed it, especially the six months around the district on her bicycle, doing home deliveries (home births).

In 1956 Miriam came to Australia with her sister Nora on a Boomerang Trip - for a six to 18-month stay but as they still had a lot to see they cancelled their return tickets and didn't go home for a holiday until 1960.

Miriam worked in Melbourne for four years and on her return from Ireland went to Charleville as a theatre sister first and then as matron.

She was always interested in the Flying Doctor Service and was lucky enough to hitch a ride with Dr Tim O'Leary for three of his routine outback clinics covering western Queensland from Thargomindah to Birdsville to Longreach to Windorah and Quilpie to Stonehenge. Miriam's last position was as matron at Gympie Hospital, where she stayed for 18 years until retiring in 1985.

Miriam loved music and had the radio set on a classical music station in Brisbane and played it all day.

Always interested in choirs, Miriam started at St George's Hospital where a medical student was a qualified choir master. He trained about 100 nurses and medical students to sing carols by candlelight in the wards.

Miriam rekindled the tradition of the nurses singing around the wards in Gympie Hospital carrying candles and went around some of the nursing homes and doctors' houses.

While her parents were alive, she flew home every two to three years and made her last trip to the UK in 2002.

Miriam was sorry she didn't marry after the war as she said she missed children and family, especially in her later years.

Nursing staff found her to be strict but fair, and many a student nurse commented that only for matron they would never have completed their training. In Miriam's words, she liked "a person who has a bit of spark".

Away from work, Mim was a lover of cats. Strays would find her, and with gentle encouragement, they became pets, and were thoroughly spoilt.

Miriam died in Caloundra Hospital on April 27, 2015 after suffering a stroke.

Her funeral service was held in Caloundra on Friday, May 1, 2015.

Miriam had hand written her own eulogy and had also organised the photos for her photographic tribute presentation. Miriam was aged 89 years and 10 months.

 

- ELAINE JENNINGS,

TOOWOOMBA


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