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Obituary: Heather MacDermott – Lymington community nurse was ‘a pure ray of sunshine’

Heather MacDermott
Heather MacDermott

A WELL-KNOWN community nurse who dedicated her life to helping others has died aged 61.

Heather MacDermott, from Barton, worked at Lymington hospital for most of her career, initially as a staff nurse before becoming ward sister. She later worked as a community and district nurse around Lymington, New Milton and Barton until ill health forced her to take early retirement.

Paying tribute, her sister Jackie said: “Heather was a pure ray of sunshine, with the bluest of eyes and the warmest of smiles. A source of true joy, greatly loved, greatly missed and forever remembered.”

Heather, nee Blackwell, was born in Stratford-upon-Avon on 9th June 1959, and her parents, Mimi and Brian, moved to Western Avenue in Barton in 1965.

Heather was the oldest of her siblings, Alison, Jackie and David, and went to school at Arnewood Comprehensive in New Milton and studied for her A-levels at Brockenhurst College.

Aged 18 Heather underwent training to become a state registered nurse at Southampton General Hospital. Just before she began her career, she travelled on her own to Australia and New Zealand, which marked the beginning of her love of travel.

On her return she began her general nursing practice in Lymington hospital, working hard to become staff nurse, then ward sister.

Heather met future husband John on a train to Bournemouth in 1996. John, a railway driver, had just moved to Bournemouth from London and was on his way home from a shift.

They were married at St Mary Magdelene’s Church in 1998 on the same day England played in the World Cup, with guests singing them off on their honeymoon to the football anthem Three Lions on a Shirt.

Over the years the couple travelled in the UK and abroad as well as taking heritage railway journeys, walking, visiting cathedrals and enjoying afternoon teas.

In 2011 Heather received the devastating diagnosis of multiple myeloma, a complex type of bone marrow cancer. She had to take early retirement from the work she loved as a community and district nurse.

Over the ensuing years Heather underwent two stem cell replacements and chemotherapy treatments but despite periods of debilitating health, she rarely complained. Instead, she would count her blessings and think of ways she could help others.

With a love of reading from a young age, over the last few years she took over the running of a local book group, where she made many good friends.

She was passionate about social justice and she volunteered at the Oxfam bookshop in New Milton. She was also a valued member of the team at the New Forest Basics Bank in Lymington, where she helped out regularly before the pandemic forced her to shield.

Heather was auntie to seven nephews and nieces, and five great-nephews and a great-niece. She was also godmother to two of her friends’ children.

After being admitted to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital on 9th January, Heather died a week later. Her funeral was held yesterday (Thursday) by invitation due to Covid-19 restrictions.

A tribute page set up online has so far raised more than £2,000 for Myeloma UK, a charity which supports sufferers and aims to find a cure. To donate visit www.heathermacdermott.muchloved.com/

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