Altnagelvin Hospital’s first matron dies (96)

Betty Boyce, centre, who was the first Matron at Altnagelvin, pictured at the service held on Sunday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the hospital. Included are, Doris Bredin, right, who followed her as Matron and later became Director of Nursing, and Susan Eaton, former Ward Sister. LS06-181KM10

Betty Boyce, centre, who was the first Matron at Altnagelvin, pictured at the service held on Sunday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the hospital. Included are, Doris Bredin, right, who followed her as Matron and later became Director of Nursing, and Susan Eaton, former Ward Sister. LS06-181KM10

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The first matron of Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry has passed away aged 96.

Betty Boyce, who worked at the Derry hospital from its opening in 1960 until her retirement in 1976, died at a nursing home in England last week.

Her family have described her as a “great character who will be sadly missed.”

Born outside Dublin, Ms. Boyce trained as a nurse at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

She worked as a nurse in India before moving to the Throne Hospital in Belfast and, then, on to Altnagelvin.

Her work was recognised with an OBE and she was made a Dame of Grace of the Order of St John for her service to St John Ambulance.

In recent months, Mr. Boyce - who retired to Bryansford in Co. Down - moved to England to be closer to her nephew, Tony.

She died at a nursing home in Herefordshire on September 7.

Her nephew’s wife, Sally Boyce, said the former nurse was a “real character who took no nonsense.”

Canon Walter Quill, who was a chaplain at Altnagelvin in the 1960s, said Ms. Boyce “ran a tight ship.”

“I would describe her as firm but fair,” he said. “She did her rounds every morning and I would see her run her finger along things to see how clean the wards were.

“She really kept the nurses on their toes.”

Ms. Boyce’s funeral will take place at Bryansford Church of Ireland this Friday at 2 p.m. while a memorial service is planned for Glendermott Church of Ireland next month.