Elspeth Allen: Former Norfolk WI chairman was also chief nursing officer at Cromer hospitals

Obit Elizabeth Allen

Obit Elizabeth Allen - Credit: Archant

A former county chairman of Norfolk Women's Institutes, Elspeth Allen, who has died aged 91, was also chief nursing officer of Cromer Hospitals.

She celebrated her 21st year as a member of the Women's Institute by taking over as president from the late Pat Bond in March 1991.

Addressing the gathering of 900-strong members, guests and representatives of county organisations, the former president of Cromer WI, added: 'I am happy to take over the job. I am looking forward to being in the hotseat.'

Elspeth Margaret Robertson was born in Elgin, Scotland, in 1922 and trained as a nurse at the Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen. Later she worked in north Wales and specialised in midwifery and became a tutor.

She came to north Norfolk in the 1960s as matron of Cromer Hospital. Miss Robertson, as she was always known, later became principal nursing officer for the Cromer group of hospitals, responsible for ten units. She was also a former acting chairman of Norwich Health District Authority.


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When she retired aged 60, she travelled widely, often in connection with the WI and its charity, Associated Country Women of the World. Many of her overseas trips were to ACWW conferences, where she made many friends around the world.

She always collected souvenirs on her trips and took numerous slides, which were used as material for her impressive talks to various organisations including many WIs.

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A former president of Cromer WI, she was also a member at Overstrand. Elected to the county executive, she was county treasurer.

Her faith was important to her and she was a member of the parochial church council at St Martin's, Overstrand, where she was also a churchwarden.

She was renowned for her hats, which she usually wore for church.

She studied to become a guide at Norwich Cathedral and thoroughly enjoyed her work there and the friendships made on her twice-weekly visits.

A long-standing member of the Mothers' Union, she was branch leader in Overstrand until the group closed due to lack of members a few years ago. Her annual strawberry teas were memorable occasions.

Although not the keenest of gardeners, she was on the committee of the Cromer Horticultural Society and served on the committee when Overstrand Gardening Club started in 2000.

For many years she was a governor of the Belfry School, Overstrand.

She had married George Allen in April 1969 but he died almost five years later.

A funeral service will be held at St Martin's Church, Overstrand, on Monday at 11am.

Michael Pollitt

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