Tributes paid to "incredibly resilient" care manager Maureen

Maureen Ritchie was a well respected nurse and loving mother and grandparent.

Maureen Ritchie was a well respected nurse and loving mother and grandparent. - Credit: Submitted

The family of a woman who dedicated herself to helping others have shared their memories of "her incredible life".

Maureen June Barnes, along with her twin brother Michael, were born on the  June 14, 1941 in Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

Her daughter, Kathi Ritchie, said: "Mum was always quick to tell folks that she arrived first - some two minutes ahead of her brother.

"Life wasn't easy back then - Maureen, Michael and their older brother David spent their early years in either local children’s homes or with our Great Aunt."

Maureen as a nurse in Hellesdon Hospital.

Maureen as a nurse in Hellesdon Hospital. - Credit: Kathi Ritchie

Maureen went to Lakenham Council School in City Road, Lakenham until she was 11 before attending Secondary Modern School, that is now known as The Hewett Academy, until she was 15.

Ms Ritchie said: "From school mum worked as a chemist in St Benedict’s Street.

"After a short spell there, she moved back to Lakenham to live with aunt Rose - which would be a prolific turning point in my mum's life."

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A chance encounter in Surrey Street resulted in what Kathi called "a life time of true love."

She said: "Mum was walking home after a night out dancing with one of her friends.

Maureen with her daughter Kathi Ritchie.

Maureen with her daughter Kathi Ritchie. - Credit: Kathi Ritchie

"A certain Mr Barrie Ritchie spotted Maureen and, due the weather darkening and his gentlemanly ways, offered to escort Maureen home.

"Not long after this, whilst on a night out at the Samson and Hercules Dancehall, mum found herself to be dancing with someone she didn’t really want to be with.

"Spotting Barrie, she tapped him on the shoulder for help, he took up the dancing reins and the rest they say is history."

At 18 Maureen began her nurse training at Hellesdon Hospital - studying hard and becoming the youngest ward sister ever, at the hospital, at just 21 years of age.

Maureen loved to swim, dance, travel and explore the outdoors - while also being a loving mother and grandparent.

Maureen loved to swim, dance, travel and explore the outdoors - while also being a loving mother and grandparent. - Credit: Kathi Ritchie

During those three years, Maureen and Barrie married at St Mark’s Church, Lakenham - when she was 19 years old.

The pair bought their first house in Bowthorpe Road before settling in Salhouse Road in 1998 - where Maureen stayed for the rest of her life.

Maureen’s dedication and love of nursing took her in a number of directions but always under the umbrella of mental health.

Ms Ritchie added: "She worked at Hellesdon Hospital, David Rice Hospital and Thorpe St Andrew’s Hospital, all with her patients’ wellbeing at the centre of her care.

Maureen married Barrie in St Mark's Church - where she was also put to rest - 61 years later.

Maureen married Barrie in St Mark's Church - where she was also put to rest - 61 years later. - Credit: Kathi Ritchie

"Her hard work in the industry - challenging normal conventions and decisions to change how the status quo operated - paid off.

"Mum got into senior management as the patient care manager of Thorpe St Andrew Hospital."

Maureen became a mother in 1967 to Stephen and again in 1971, with Kathi.

Maureen's first bout with cancer arrived in 1999.

Ms Ritchie said: "Mum retired from nursing at 56.

Maureen had two bouts with cancer - in 1999 and again in 2010.

Maureen had two bouts with cancer - in 1999 and again in 2010. - Credit: Kathi Ritchie

"She didn’t retire though, not really, instead working in a local school giving one to one support to students. 

"Despite the fact she had cancer - mum gained a 2.1 degree in social sciences, social policy and criminology.

"At this point she was facing her first round of cancer and was also supporting her twin brother Michael, who was also dying of cancer."

Maureen had treatment and beat breast cancer in 2004.

Maureen pictured here with Kathi's dog, Izzabella.

Maureen pictured here with Kathi's dog, Izzabella. - Credit: Kathi Ritchie

Ms Ritchie said: "Mum did so much in her life it’s hard to mention it all - she loved her family, her friends and she loved a challenge.

"But not all of Maureen’s challenges were of her choice."

In 2010 Maureen's was diagnosed with metastatic cancer.

Ms Ritchie said: "Even though the doctor's said this type of cancer was 'life limiting' it did anything but that - mum lived another wonderful 11 years, travelling, dancing, swimming and exploring the outdoors.

Maureen pictured with her twin brother Michael and older brother, David.

Maureen pictured with her twin brother Michael and older brother, David. - Credit: Kathi Ritchie

"She was an incredibly resilient lady and someone I always aspire to be throughout my own hardships."

Maureen died on January 28 and her funeral was held on March 10 at St Marks Church - where she got married 61 years prior.

She died at home surrounded by her loving daughter Kathi, her husband Barrie and many others.