RETIRED district nurse Evelyn Lamb, who was a champion of the NHS and pillar of the New Milton community for 60 years, has died at Oakhaven Hospice following a short illness.
Evelyn was born in 1931 in Belfast and was very proud of her Irish heritage. Her family moved to rural Lincolnshire when she was 15 and, after a short time in a local office, she enrolled as a nurse cadet at Lincoln County Hospital before successfully progressing to full nurse training.
While in Lincoln, Evelyn met and fell in love with Norman Lamb, a navigator in the RAF. They were engaged in November 1949 but could not marry until February 1953 after she finished her training.
They came south following Norman’s medical discharge from the RAF, when they moved to Pennington where his parents lived. His father, a Lymington councillor, ran the local newsagent and Sunday Wholesale news agency.
Norman became a sales representative for a magazine publishing company and the couple moved to Stem Lane, New Milton, with their baby daughter.
While her children were young Evelyn worked at a number of local nursing homes but in 1968 she obtained a district nursing post at Barton surgery. She continued in this role for over 20 years and at one time could be seem driving around the area in her gold Ford Capri, not the typical car for a district nurse, but Evelyn loved it.
Caroline said: “Evelyn was always welcome in patients’ homes, arriving with a smile and a consistently high standard of professional nursing care.”
In 2018 she was one of the few nurses in the county who were nursing when the NHS was established and was very happy to recount her memories of 70 years earlier.
Featured in a national newspaper, she said of nurse training: “My advice for anyone starting today would be to keep on learning and studying. All my life I worked for improved academic support for nurses – it makes such a difference.
“This sounds strange, but you’ve got to be a toucher too. You’ve got to be comfortable with putting your arm around a stranger. And you’ve got to like people. That’s the most important thing of all.”
Following the death of Mr Lamb senior, the family now with two daughters, Caroline and Diane, moved to Christchurch Road. Their son Brian was born shortly after and the family home had an ever-open door where all visitors where given a warm welcome.
Until the mid-1980s Norman ran his Sunday newspaper and magazine businesses from the garage. Evelyn retired from nursing to assist Norman in his business but when this collapsed, due to the changes in newspaper distribution, she took on the management of Carlton House Nursing Home, with Norman assisting her as the “odd job man”.
Norman died suddenly in 1989, which was a great shock to Evelyn, her family and friends. However, she continued to run Carlton House for a while and then worked as a practice nurse and at Farnley House Nursing Home.
In 1999 Evelyn moved from Christchurch Road to the Caird Avenue area of New Milton, which was very handy for her numerous trips to Tesco. Here too her door was always open to visitors, where cups of tea, cake and a listening hear were always available.
Other than being a dedicated and special nurse, Evelyn was always fully engaged with the local community.
Following her retirement, she established the New Forest branch of the NHS Retirement Fellowship for which she was still organising meetings this summer. For many years she was the local coordinator with the Red Cross and subsequently Brendan Care.
She was a member of the local branch of the Business and Professional Women’s Club and when this disbanded the remaining local members still met up.
Evelyn was an active member of New Milton’s St Mary Magdalene Parish Church congregation for over 60 years.
“Belonging to this church family gave her great pleasure and she would give her time freely and enthusiastically to all church activities,” recalled Caroline.
In more recent years Evelyn was involved with establishment of the local branch of the U3A and hosted two Scrabble groups in her home and attended a singing group. Even when she was in Bournemouth hospital this September, she was concerned that she would have to cancel the Scrabble groups and let the members down – a typical response from Evelyn.
She is survived by her daughters Caroline and Diane, a daughter-in-law, two sons-in-law, seven grandchildren, five great-children and two sisters. Son Brian died in 1996.
Caroline said: “Despite having a vast circle of friends from all aspects of her New Milton life, Evelyn deeply loved her ever increasing family.”
A family cremation will be held later this month followed by a service to celebrate Evelyn’s life, at St Mary Magdalene Parish Church.
Those wishing to donate in her memory can give to the Red Cross c/o Wessex Funeral Services (New Forest) Ltd, 3 Bursledon House, Station Road, New Milton, BH25 6HT. Tel: 01425 383844.