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Sister Eunice

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Mary Eunice Goold, known as Sister Eunice, 27 June 1924 - 15 February 2021


By Janet Fortnum, Hospital Secretary/Manager, Mildmay Mission, 1977 - 1982


Sister Eunice was 96 when she died i nearly 2021. Her great-nephew Alastair gave the tribute to his aunt at her Thanksgiving Service on 9 March 2021, from which I learned a lot about her background.


Born in Sussex, Eunice was involved with the medical profession from the start as she had been a risky breach birth. Her second encounter was when she was hospitalised with swollen lymph glands. She was deeply affected by the nurses there and this planted the seed of what she might do. She became a Probationer Nurse at nearby Midhurst where one of the sisters had trained at Mildmay. This began a life-long association with Mildmay, as well as a faith-filled life of caring for others.


Eunice's father would not allow her to go to London for training, but she did eventually leave Sussex for London after VE Day. On VJ Day she was among the crowds in front of Buckingham Palace. She spent three years training as a nurse at Mildmay. Having qualified there, she went on to train as a midwife. It seems that 'Call the Midwife' was very much the life Eunice lived!

Her sister Grace became gravely ill in 1957, when Eunice left Mildmay to care for her. She held various local positions after that. In 1962 when, as a school matron, one of the children ran into her, dislodging three vertebrae in her neck. She eventually returned to Mildmay in an administrative capacity. She met her husband Arthur at Mildmay where he worked as Finance Officer. They were married in 1972.


I first got to know Eunice when I joined Mildmay Mission Hospital in 1977. She had been given the position as Homes Warden with responsibility for the Nurses Homes and the cleaning staff, both at the hospital and in the Homes. The cleaners were a mixture of ages and came from a variety of different countries. Sister Eunice was very firm about upholding high cleaning and hygiene standards, not least with new nurses in the Homes who left out food which "might encourage mice". She was very supportive of the cleaners, standing up for them with me on many occasions when she thought it right. I was the Hospital Secretary and Eunice's line manager. We often had interesting conversations, not just about cleaning and nurses but about spiritual matters too.


Eunice retired from Mildmay in 1982 and moved with Arthur to Bognor Regis. Although small in size and stature, she was a tower of strength to her family in the following years. She cared for her elderly mother, who was mostly in bed, till she died aged nearly 102. She then cared for Arthur who developed dementia, with only rare opportunities for rest when respite care was available for him. After Arthur died, Eunice cared for her sister Grace who was quite frail having suffered polio. I did meet Grace and Eunice on one occasion when they were staying at lovely Burrswood in Kent for rest and refreshment.


I did meet Grace and Eunice on one occasion when they were staying at lovely Burrswood in Kent for rest and refreshment.


Eunice kept in touch with me over the years, often with letters, cuttings and occasional phone calls. When I broke my shoulder in 2008, she offered to go shopping for me where I lived in Eastbourne. She was then in her 80's! Four or five years ago my phone calls to Eunice got shorter as she seemed to struggle to find energy and words to speak. Then I no longer received cards or messages, so realised age had probably caught up with her.

I thank our Heavenly Father for my memories of Eunice, a most kind Christian woman, who was always keen to share her faith with others. She did not force this on others but gently encouraged. When at Mildmay she gave me a paperback 'Streams In The Desert' by Mrs Cowman, a daily Bible reading, reflection and prayer. It was very helpful to me on my faith journey, such that it is now almost in tatters with yellow pages and held together by ribbon.


I think the following reflection from that book sums up my thoughts of Eunice. "Dear ones may be gone, but 'the influence of the summer of their lives' is left upon us. Our hearts are warmer blessed and of use to others because of the benefits received from them."