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Brackley Care Home honours very special nurse on International Nurses Day

Brackley Delia1

If you were born at the old Brackley Cottage Hospital between 1961 and 1986 it is highly likely you were delivered by the legendary matron Delia Frost.

Her devotion to duty, which also saw her caring for elderly people convalescing following discharge from the Horton Hospital, in Banbury, led to her being made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours list on her retirement.

It was fitting that when Brackley Care Home opened in 2020, in the town’s Wellington Road, a public appeal for suggestions led to its nursing and residential units being named the Delia Frost Suite.

Now, to further honour her, the Kingsley Healthcare home will host a grand afternoon tea and entertainment for the local community from 2.30pm to 4.30pm  on Friday, 12th May, which is International Nurses Day.

The home’s Customer Relations Manager, Julie Wilson, said: “We are inviting anyone from the community who would like to come to our event, but we would particularly love to see some of the thousands of local people who were delivered by Delia as babies.  Please bring your baby photos along with you!

“Our event is intended to honour the skill and devotion of all nurses and we will be presenting gift bags to any nurses and retired nurses attending.”

One of Brackley Care Home’s current residents, Marian Frost - no relation - became a friend of Delia’s when she moved to the town from South Yorkshire in 1996.

She had decided to start going to St Peter’s Church and, on her first visit, the Rev Canon Peter Woodward introduced her to “another Frost in my congregation”.

She recalled Delia had made her very welcome as a new parishioner, inviting her to her home for coffee and for Bible readings; they went on to become as close as sisters.

She said: “Delia wanted to be a member of the Mother’s Union but thought she could not join as she was not a mother. I was determined Delia would be able to join, particularly as she had delivered most of the babies born in Brackley, but sadly she passed away before it could happen.”

The Rev Canon Woodward will be a guest of honour at the home’s International Women’s Day event.

At Delia’s funeral he had given a moving eulogy, describing her as “surely one of the best nurses ever known”.

“She had such a gentle manner, so wonderful with people, and a special rapport with animals too, her dog, her cat and all the others,” he said.

Ahead of International Nurses Day, the home’s activities coordinator, Barbara Foley, had appealed to the public for recollections of Delia and many people came forward with fond memories.

Caryl Billingham, former vice-chairman of Brackley Hospital Trust, which ran the cottage hospital, wrote: “I do remember Delia Frost coming to Brackley to nurse at “the Cottage” in the company of Rosemary Miles who was a Sister there. Both of them were, I believe, Northamptonshire ladies. They shared a bungalow in Westminster Crescent and had a poodle named Rosie who used to accompany them to the hospital and patrol the corridors. Things were different at that time.”

Philipa MacMahon worked with Delia at Brackley Cottage Hospital and although she was a District Nurse rather than a midwife, she recalled delivering one baby with her.

She recalled: “I remember the lovely cottage hospital feel that Brackley had. When attending the birth with Delia she said to me just before the baby was born, ‘would you get the table cloth ready please’. I was puzzled but then a cloth was produced that was not a table cloth but the swaddling to wrap the baby in.”

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