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Deaconess Marjorie Somerville 23Nov1920-30Sept2009

June 1st, 2018 · No Comments · Deacon profiles, Obituraries

DEACONESS MARJORIE ALICE SOMERVILLE 23 November 1920 – 30 September 2009
Marjorie (Marj) Wilkinson Somerville was a double certificate registered nurse and deaconess, who, in 1946, pioneered the inaugural Methodist Nursing Services, establishing the nation’s first interstate mobile nursing service between New South Wales and Queensland.
When Marj moved to Noosa in 2007, she returned to public speaking and gave talks at bookstores and events. She was booked with speaking engagements on the Sunshine Coast until February. It was with sadness they were cancelled when Marj died in Buderim Private Hospital after a short illness.
With her colleague, Ethel Helyar, she brought a unique combination of free pastoral, medical and dental care to all, “regardless of class, colour or creed” as was their motto. In this capacity, Marj patrolled an outback region of 35,000 square miles in an ambulance fondly named “Augustus”.
As a much-loved “Methodist Sister”, Marj was called upon to assist bachelor graziers, lonely housewives, Aboriginal communities by riverbanks and townspeople. She established Christmas plays and country children’s camps to city beaches.
Marj, graceful and beautiful, was flattered by many romantic advances, but the cry of the suffering people was stronger than the longings of her romantic heart.
In 1949, when she left the outback for health reasons, Marj pioneered the first Methodist Nursing Service in Newtown, Sydney. As the infamous Coal Strike of 1949 heightened, her compassionate service to the poor, elderly and unemployed was frequently reported in newspapers. The Sydney press nick-named Marj – the nurse in the blue uniform – “the Blue Angel”.
Marj was an inspiration for the Rev Arthur Preston and Queensland pioneer nurse, Olive Crombie, who, in 1953, adapted Marj’s Newtown model for their inaugural West End Blue Nursing Service, adopting the same motto.
In 1951 Marj married and bore three children. In 2000, she was short-listed for Senior Australian of the Year. In 2006, the biography of her pioneering nursing life, “Angels of Augustus” was launched at Parliament House, Sydney.


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