Nursing ‘trailblazer’ Dorothy Gardiner dies at age of 88 – by Sally Bryant of the Reading Post
Dorothy Gardiner, the founder of a ground-breaking Reading nursing agency has died at the age of 88. Mrs Gardiner who was awarded an MBE for her achievements launched Gardiner’s Nursing Agency in 1968. She died at The Old Vicarage in Moulsford, Oxfordshire, on Wednesday, March 7 2012.
Dorothy Gardiner was born in Wallesey, Cheshire. She began training as a nurse in 1942 at Withington Hospital, Manchester. Dorothy moved to Sonning, then Emmer Green after marrying in 1946 and worked as a midwife, district nurse and at Royal Berkshire Hospital.
Following the birth of her two children, Dorothy Gardiner joined a nursing agency and soon took on an administrative role for the south central branch of the British Nursing Association (BNA). She resigned when the owners of the BNA sold out to a public company and set up Gardiner’s Nursing Agency with her husband Ivan. She introduced immediate payment, insurance cover and a code of conduct. This gave an enormous lift to the profile of the agency nurse. Business thrived and the agency was soon supplying nurses to institutions and the private sector across the Home Counties and Oxfordshire.
Obituary for Dorothy Gardiner continued
In 1971, Dorothy Gardiner persuaded the Royal College of Nursing to set up a forum for nursing agency administrators. She was elected chairman and stayed in the hot seat until 1983. Mrs Gardiner was made an MBE the following year for services to nursing. The aware was ‘in particular an outstanding contribution to fostering good standards of care in the independent sector’.
She stepped down from the day-to-day management of Gardiner’s in 1998 but continued working on a consultant basis for as long as her health allowed. Her grandson John-Joe Cottam now runs the agency.
Mrs Gardiner’s nursing standards remained high throughout her life. Her family says she valued every client, nurse and member of staff equally. She strove to provide a professional, sensitive and caring service. She questioned the trend away from personal caring to institutionalised procedures and was never prepared to compromise her principles for the sake of change.
Raising a family while working full-time was a very modern idea from the 1950s through to the 80s, but Mrs Gardiner was a trailblazer. She always found time for family and friends, was extremely generous and was known for her witty and slightly wicked sense of humour.
Her energy, drive and work ethic carried over into her home life. She and her husband built a stage, complete with footlights and floodlights, in their front room every year. Grandchildren and their friends were invited to rehearse for a Christmas variety show, which led to many memorable evenings.
Mrs Gardiner leaves her husband, her children John and Jan, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Her funeral is on Monday, March 19. All enquiries to Howard Chadwick Funeral Directors on 01491 825222.