Obituary: Helen Chamberlain – Lymington Hospital nurse for 45 years
TRIBUTES have been paid to former casualty nurse Helen Chamberlain who worked at the old Lymington Hospital for most of her 45-year career.
The mum-of-three died aged 83 on 23rd April at her home in Ashley, where she lived for the last eight years with her husband Eric.
Described by her daughter Wendy as “kind and gentle”, Helen was known for always being immaculately dressed and would not be seen out and about if her hair was not “pristine”.
Helen, nee Chalk and fondly known as "Chalky" while training to be a nurse, was born in Exeter but grew up in Bitterne with her parents and brother.
Her first job was as a window dresser and her hobbies included playing tennis and ice skating, for which she won numerous awards.
Aged 18, Helen began two years of training as a state enrolled nurse at Western Hospital in Southampton and formed a life-long friendship with fellow nurses Brenda Crook and Margaret Issacs.
Helen won several awards for her work, including being named the hospital’s nurse of the year multiple times.
After completing her training, Helen began work at the former Lymington Hospital and met her future husband, forester Eric Chamberlain, at a dance at Setley House, Brockenhurst.
Helen and Eric – who later became an ambulance driver – tied the knot in 1962 and moved to Belmore Lane, Lymington. There they had Peter, now 61, followed by identical twins Wendy and Jackie, now 59.
Peter said: “When I was younger mum would do night duties on wards and dad would be at home looking after us and getting our dinners sorted.
“They were ships passing in the night.
“She was known on the wards she worked on for always going round opening the windows.
“The other on duty nurses and doctors would say, ‘Oh, I know Helen is in’ because she would always go round the wards opening every window she could find.”
The family later moved to Broomfield Lane, Lymington, where Helen and Eric lived for 52 years until relocating to Ashley.
Helen took early retirement due to ill health but also helped train new nurses during her long career.
In her spare time, Helen enjoyed walking, gardening, flower arranging and travelling.
She and Eric went boating on the Norfolk Broads with their children and visited the Everglades in Florida, Spain and Turkey.
The couple also visited Gambia at least six times after making friends with a Gambian family during their first visit.
Wendy said her parents would take gifts, including bags of rice and school supplies, to the family whenever they visited.
“She was always a kind and gentle person,” Wendy said. “She was very loyal and sensitive, and she would always see the best in everything and everybody.
“She used to say, ‘If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t bother to say anything at all.’
“She was genuinely warm and caring.”
Wendy added: “She also loved cats. We had a cat called Toby when I was young and years later mum had a Toby Two.
“The other thing about her is that she was always immaculately dressed in bright colours, keeping up with fashion and bringing her window dressing skills into play.
“Her hair was always pristine, and she would not be seen out and about without it being done properly.”
Until her final day, Helen lived independently with her husband thanks to help from the whole family.