Sister Mary Ward
Private papers and family photographs relating to Sister Mary E.H.Ward
Sister Mary Ward was born in 1885, the daughter of Thomas Amos a rope and twine manufacturer of Stoke Bruerne. She never professionally qualified as a nurse but did spend ten years nursing in convents in Europe before she returning to Stoke Bruerne to nurse her sick father. This brought her into contact with boat families, many of whom she had known when growing up in Stoke bruerne. She married Charlie Ward and as her father's health declined, he took over her father's rope business. When Charlie moved his business to a shed by the side of Lock 15 , her fathers shop became Sister Mary's surgery where she administered medicine and cared for the boat people. She did this unofficially and financed it herself until the late 1930's when the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company realised the benefits of her work and appointed her 'Consultant Sister' She carried out many duties, for the village and the local community as well as the boaters. She was the nurse and medical advisor to the school, delivered babies, and wrote letters for the boat families.Towards the end of her life her hard work was recognised and she was awarded the B.E.M in the New Years Honours list of 1951. On April 13th 1959 she was the subject of 'This is your life' programme with Eammon Andrews. The Nursing Mirror also ran a story about her life and work in May 1947. Aged 73 British Waterways 'officially' retired her on a tiny pension but she carried on caring for the boat people for another seven years. She eventually went to live with her daughter in London and died on 22nd March 1972 aged 87. She is buried in the Baptist churchyard at Roade.