by Chris Buller
I first met Ann on the train in Boulogne when I was on night duty and saw a frightened and nervous lady and quickly got the old regulars to talk to her and allay her fears about what lay ahead. As so often is the case for the first day or two in Lourdes she claimed to dislike the place and wanted to go home, out of fear of the unknown I suspect, but by the end of week she had been converted into Lourdes addict and was already planning her return for the next year. She came for many years until her numerous afflictions started to get the better of her, culminating in contracting MRSA and C-Diff on her regular visits to her hospital.
Ann lived on the 8th floor of a residential tower block in Bedford and whilst it may sound an unsuitable location it was next to the main bus station and so it was easy for her wide circle of friends to reach her. Ann was a regular on the Community Service Unit (otherwise affectionately known by the schoolchildren as ‘granny bashing’ for those children who did not join the CCF or do the Duke of Edinburgh awards). She made a great many friends through the local school initiative and was very influential with many of the children and I know she helped counsel a number of children away from a drugs problem, and made friends for life with those children, but also with their parents, a number of whom attended her funeral.
Those of you who remember Ann will recall that she was a very poor sleeper in Lourdes and that she, along with her fellow Bedford pilgrims Gina and Stephanie, would be found on the roof of the Accueil smoking and chatting away, all night if they could get away with it! All three of them proved to be popular company for the night staff teams who enjoyed having a puff during the night.
In the last few years in Lourdes, Ann became a prayer member of the Hospitalité and I know she was overjoyed to be asked and always attended the Hospitalité service when in Lourdes. I will miss calling her ‘ratbag’ (a nickname only the male ward members were allowed to use), her generous and caring nature, her great sense of humour and her ability to cope with all the pranks and jokes that the ward team used to play on her.
May she Rest in Peace. (2008)