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Tributes paid to former hospital matron who spent her life helping others

PUBLISHED: 13:03 21 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:28 21 March 2019

Kate Powell, former Matron of Cromer Hospital, on a visit to Buckingham Palace. Picture: SUPPLIED BY NNUH

Kate Powell, former Matron of Cromer Hospital, on a visit to Buckingham Palace. Picture: SUPPLIED BY NNUH

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Tributes have been paid to a former hospital matron who was known for her lifelong dedication to helping others.

Kate Powell, when she retired from her role as matron of Cromer Hospital. Picture: SAM ROBBINSKate Powell, when she retired from her role as matron of Cromer Hospital. Picture: SAM ROBBINS

Kathleen Powell, known as Kate, died aged 78 on February 12.

She worked as a nurse across Norfolk before becoming matron at Cromer Hospital, which she helped develop.

A tribute written by Ms Powell’s former colleagues said: “Kate always thought of other people before herself and gave her life to helping others.”

Ms Powell trained as a registered children’s nurse at Sheffield Hospital and then moved to Norfolk to be near her parents, working at Kelling’s Children’s Sanatorium. She also worked in the theatre of Jenny Lind Children’s Hospital in Norwich, and, in the 1970s, in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she specialised in ophthalmology theatre nursing.

Ms Powell moved back to Norfolk in 1980 to became sister of Nelson’s (Eye) ward at the West Norwich Hospital, helping other nurses develop their ophthalmology skills and helping to launch the first Anglian Eye Bank and the UK’s first day care unit for cataract surgery, along with Peter Davies.

She became Cromer Hospital’s matron in 1991, when it was facing new regulations meaning some surgical procedures could not be carried out there, as it was too far from the intensive care unit at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Her colleagues said: “This did not floor Kate. She just said ‘right, we develop more services especially for the people of north Norfolk’.

“Kate developed the eye department, known as Allies, a day procedure unit, endoscopy nurse-led unit, minor illness and injury nurse-led unit and more outpatient clinics units.”

Ms Powell was also a keen fundraiser, helping to organise an annual fete with hospital friends group chairman Shirley Davies and, with Paul Brooks, a weekly bingo session. The bingo raised £22,000 for Cromer Hospital, which moved into a new building in 2012.

The new hospital was built thanks to a £11.4m legacy from Sagle Bernstein, after Ms Powell and her team cared for Mrs Bernstein’s sister Muriel Thoms, who died in 1998.

Her colleagues said: “Without Kate and her staff there would be no new Cromer Hospital.”

She lived in Norwich Road in Cromer, and was once invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace in recognition of her work in nursing.

After Ms Powell retired she enjoyed bird watching, gardening, reading and visiting her horse, Fred.

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