Family and friends of retired nurse Jean Gilden will come out into Woodlands Close, Uckfield, this morning to pay their respects as she is brought home for the last time before her funeral.
NHS signs and banners will decorate a hearse carrying Jean’s coffin which will leave funeral directors Fuller and Scott and travel to the Close aiming to arrive at 11.45am.
The time has been chosen specifically because this is when, each day, Jean, her husband Derek, and neighbours would gather on their doorsteps to have morning coffee.
It is hoped the neighbours will come out and clap for Jean as she makes her last coffee morning stop with family and friends.
Jean, 73, was a nurse for more than 50 years in the NHS in Sussex, Kent and London. She died on April 26 and her funeral is due to take place tomorrow, but, due to Covid19, the family is unable to attend.
This is why Fuller and Scott have arranged to take her home to be waved and clapped off, with family and friends able to say goodbye to their hero, also an unsung NHS Hero.
Jean Beatrice was born in November 1946, little sister to Dennis and adored daughter of George and Beatrice.
As a child Jean was poorly and spent a lot of time in hospital care. This inspired her to become a nurse and enter the caring profession herself.
After a short spell in office work, Jean pursued her dream and started her nursing training at Pembury and Tunbridge Wells hospital.
It was here, on Ward 7 that she met her husband Derek; he had broken his leg playing football. He considers it the luckiest break he ever had.
Derek’s mum Joyce worked at the hospital too and a high profile patient that the two nurses looked after was Lord Hugh Dowding, a World War 1 fighter pilot, and Air Chief Marshal, commander of the RAF, in World War 2.
The family moved from Tunbridge Wells to Horsham and Jean continued her nursing career at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, donning her cape, hat, and buckled belt.
During her nursing career Jean progressed to SRN and mentored and supported other aspiring nurses to be the very best they could be, under her careful guidance. She was so loved by them they often referred to her as ‘Mum’.
Jean found time to run a village shop with her husband, be Snowy Owl for the local Brownies and raise money for charity by taking part in a fashion show, and working on the committee at the local tennis club.
Jean’s career in nursing spanned 50 years; working in wards, A&E, surgical recovery, anaesthetics and on call duties. She retired from the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath in 2012 after 20 years of service with them.
Jean was an unsung heroes who lived a private life. She was very proud of her nursing and gave herself to the NHS selflessly. Jean brought life into the world, she saved lives, and she held the hands of those as their life ended.
She leaves behind her husband of 52 years, Derek, daughters Lorraine and Michelle and granddaughter Kirsty. She will also be greatly missed by her dear lifelong friends in nursing Beatrice, Pauline, Rosemary, Katie and Patricia.