Best friend not forgotten

Barbara Jean Marsden
25 May 1947–24 August 2008

Barb (as she preferred) died before her time, only 61 years old, working full-time as Remote Community Nurse at Bundarra, as the Nurse Unit Manager. Ironically, she was depending on the health service for a pacemaker and died two days before the appointment, while ‘resting at home’.

Born in Lakemba, Barb did her nurse’s training at Canterbury Hospital for four years, then midwifery at Crown St Women’s Hospital.

Her sense of humour was unique and she believed ‘laughter was the best medicine’. Barb was passionate about helping people and excelled in all her roles at the Bundarra Community Centre, which included palliative care, wound management and anything else the community wanted or needed.

Barb married Peter Hancock in 1972 at Haberfield and they had three beautiful daughters, Nikki, Shelly and Brooke. Plus five and a half grandchildren to add to her brood. Barb loved her family and lived for them. She was involved with every family event she could be.

Her passion for pets led her first to a hobby farm and then onto a rural property at Uralla, called ‘Glen Leigh’. This is where I first med Barb in 1999 at our local fire brigade meetings, where she was involved with the community. We became firm friends and both did a refresher Course for Registered Nurses at Inverell District Hospital.

Barb then went to work at Armidale Community Centre until her last appointment at Bundarra Community, where her role as NUM saw her involved with the closure of the old Hospital building and the make over of the Community centre. She fought hard to keep services in the community and provided a 24-hour, on-call, five-days-a-week service. This sadly will change since her death and the position will be down graded with the on call service terminated, as stated by the health service, at the town meeting organised by the CWA ladies.

Barb was the best friend a girl could have. There were harsh words when they were needed or unbelievable support. I can only imagine the pain her family is going through. She was a loyal friend who loved life. Her special 1952 Chev Ute ‘Betsey’ with its Ruby red shined finish made her stand out wherever she travelled.

Barb’s wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience will be missed by her family, friends and the Bundarra Township forever.

On 21 February a plaque was unveiled at the Bundarra Community Centre in honour of Barbara Jean Marsden’s commitment to nursing. The inscription with Florence Nightingale’ s maxim reads: ‘I shall pass through the world but once. If there be kindness I can show or good I can do, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.’ Townsfolk, the local mayor, her family and workmates were there for the unveiling. She will not be forgotten.

By Sonya Hughes