Exhibition to mark life of ‘inspirational’ Shields woman

Anne Seymour is presented with the BEM
Anne Seymour is presented with the BEM

Plans are in hand to commemorate the work of a tireless South Tyneside campaigner who dedicated her life to helping others.

The tribute to Dr Anne Seymour, who ran A&E at the old Ingham Infirmary, will take the form of an exhibition at South Shields Museum, running from May to September.

News of the exhibition comes as McCarthy and Stone, the house builder behind Seymour Court Retirement Living development in South Shields (named in her honour), has donated £250 to St Gregory’s Parish, and which will go towards paying for a headstone for Dr Seymour, who died at the age of 80.

The cheque was donated by McCarthy and Stone’s Marketing Executive, Laura Wigglesworth, to Mrs Gillian Cormack, the Parish Secretary.

Michael Dickson, the Finance Chairman for St Gregory’s Parish, who described Dr Seymour as “an inspirational figure in the local community” explained that because of her lifelong generosity there was nothing left in her estate to provide for a memorial.

“So we’re looking to raise sufficient funds to provide one for this remarkable lady.

“We’re hoping that with donations from friends, parishoners and the wider community , we’ll reach the £700 target needed to provide a simple marker.”

He went on to explain that: “Consultant Trauma Surgeon, Dr Anne, was a larger than life figure who worked for many years at South Shields Ingham Infirmary.

“She spent some of her earlier career working in Cameroon, then went to war-torn Nigeria during the Biafran crisis, and for several years before retirement returned to Cameroon.

“On one occasion in Nigeria, she was forced to operate on a soldier at gun point. But what troubled her more was having to stop to rest knowing that casualties might die while she slept.

“Anne dedicated her life to helping others and touched the lives of people in many ways.”

Dr Seymour oversaw the provision of medical services for the first Great North Run and travelled with the sick to Lourdes on numerous occasions.

“She was one of the small group behind the establishment of St Claire’s Hospice and founded STARCH ((South Tyneside Asylum Seeker and Refugee Church Help) in 1992 – having experienced being a refugee herself in Africa

“A close friend of St Gregory’s Church, Anne was in numerous groups, an enthusiastic member of the choir,ran the Brownies for a time and an early mother and toddler group.

“Her dedication to helping others knew no bounds, and she regularly ran drop-in centres for those in need at church halls within the South Shields area.”

Mr Dickson told how Dr Seymour combined fundraising with fun by taking part in local Boxing Day Dips into her 70s.

She was awarded a Papal Medal and in the year of her death, the MBE, receiving the medal at a special ceremony at Living Waters Church, in Laygate.

Originally from Bromley in Kent, Miss Seymour moved to South Tyneside in 1976 to take on her hospital post.

Paying tribute to Dr Seymour at the time of her death, Bernadette Askins, chairwoman of South Tyneside Churches Together, said she had been “a huge figure in South Tyneside for so many years.

“She had an impact on the lives of so many people.

“She would help people quietly, in an unobtrusive way. She was a caring but formidable character. She touched the lives of so many people.”

In the tribute, featured in the Gazette at the time of her passing, close friend Yusuf Abdullah said: “Anne was a big part of South Shields and one of the most recognised.

“She gave a lot to charity, she was a very charitable person, no matter what your background, your race or religion she was always there to help.

“Anne was one of a kind and truly deserved the recognition she received in being honoured with an MBE.”

The then Mayor of South Tyneside Coun Alan Smith told how:“Anne had a big heart and was a truly inspirational pillar of the community.”

South Shields Museum is situated in Ocean Road, South Shields, NE33 2JA. Tel: (0191) 211 5599.

Anyone wanting to contribute towards Dr Seymour’s memorial appeal can send a donation to St Gregory’s Parish, marked Anne Seymour Fund.