She was at the centre of Calder Valley life in many different - and key - roles

District nurse, magistrate and Guider: Sheila Hirst
District nurse, magistrate and Guider: Sheila Hirst

Mrs Sheila Hirst, who has died at the age of 79, served the people of the Calder Valley in several roles, including as a disctrict nurse and as a Magistrate.

Sheila was born on December 22, 1934, in Sudbury, Suffolk and then moved to Brighton when her father went into St Dunstan’s, a home for blind veterans.

Sheila was on the move again when, during the early years of war, she was evacuated from Brighton to Wakefield. At the age of nine, Sheila and her family moved to Mytholmroyd and then to Hebden Bridge.

Sheila left school at 15 and went to “live in” at Fielden Hospital, a sick children’s hospital, as a nursing cadet prior to training.

Apparently it was Miss Oakley, her teacher at Central Street School, Hebden Bridge, who encouraged Sheila to follow her dream of becoming a nurse rather than make the usual career choice of going into the mill.

Sheila’s determined character fought strong family opinion to do this and as well as living in at Fielden Hospital, Sheila also stayed with a good friend in Mytholmroyd.

On May 17, 1953, she started work at the Royal Halifax Infirmary, completed her SRN finals in June 1956, and became a staff nurse in casualty and out patients.

Family life interrupted Sheila’s working life when her children Christine, Iain and Anne were born, but having been left as a single parent when her children Christine, Iain and Anne were only three, two and one-years-old, Sheila returned to RHI in 1962 as a staff nurse on night duty.

In January 1964 Sheila was appointed District Nurse for Todmorden and in the same year she qualified with the Queens Institute of District Nursing. A year later Sheila became District Nurse in Hebden Bridge until 1972.

In 1974 Sheila obtained her health visitor certificate through Leeds University and in 1982 she qualified as field work teacher through Bolton College.

Sheila had also volunteered as a Marie Curie nurse and devoted many long hours to the care others irrespective of their age or illness.

Although Sheila retired from nursing in 1989 she also felt honoured to have been a magistrate since 1982 and had sat on the Independent Tribunal Service from 1994 until quite recently.

Sheila also enjoyed Guiding, starting out as Tawny Owl, and then Brown Owl, before going on to County level.

Whenever Sheila had any spare time she would enjoy walking, gardening, caravanning and skiing.

Family get-togethers and entertaining were also very popular with Sheila.

Sheila was also honoured to be a nursing advisor on the very popular ITV Heartbeat series and even appeared as an extra in one episode.

Any remaining spare time that Sheila had was used for charitable causes such as Oxfam, Overgate Hospice and the Royal British Legion.

Sheila leaves her partner Maurice Jones, children Christine, Iain and Anne, grandchildren Josef, Benjamin, Oliver, Holli, Rhys, Joshua, Amy and Henry and great grandchildren Evie and Oscar.