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BRYANT, DORRIS LOFT (QSM)

 

Dorris Bryant was born in Kent, England on the 22 October 1891, the daughter of Stephen James and Mary Isabel Bryant nee Loft.  She came to Hawera with her parents at the age of 20.  Her first job was a shop assistant at Bennett and Sutton Ltd, Hardware Merchants of High Street (now Harding’s).  Dorris then worked for many years as a receptionist for Hawera dentist Walter Bright until his retirement.  Although Dorris was close to retirement age herself then, she continued to work part-time at the TAB.

 

Dorris first joined the Hawera branch of the British Red Cross in 1929, being one of the founding members.  She was president of the Hawera sub-branch for 30 years, and president of the NZ Red Cross South Taranaki Centre for 11 years.  On her retirement from that position she was unanimously elected patron.  During World War Two, she formed a Red Cross transport detachment in the town and served as commandant for the duration.  In 1967, she was awarded the highest award in the Red Cross movement, and became Councillor of Honour.  Dorris also held medallions for home-nursing, first-aid, sanitation and hygiene, subjects in which she qualified with honours as a member of the Women’s Voluntary Aid Detachment (a nursing group which helped at the Hawera Hospital) formed in Taranaki in 1933.

 

Drama was another interest for Dorris, and in 1936 she formed a Red Cross drama group.  The artists traveled around the district giving concerts and raising funds for Red Cross.  She was also a member of the Hawera Repertory Society.  During the 1930s she became active in the Foundation for the Blind visiting the South Taranaki blind and helping with transport to foundation events.  Civil defence was another interest; she was appointed liaison officer for Hawera and district in 1966.

 

While overseas during the early 1950s, Dorris had experience of the Meals on Wheels service in London.  At a public meeting called by the Hawera Hospital Board to establish the service in Hawera, Dorris was elected organizer and was involved in the service for more than 25 years.  When she was unable to get around so easily, she used the telephone to make up lists of drivers for the service.

 

In her younger days, she was a keen swimmer and helped teach the sport in her lunch hours as a member, and later secretary of the Hawera Swimming Club.  In later years she took up golf with the Hawera Ladies Golf Club.  Described as a woman of incredible energy, Dorris’s work in the community was recognized in 1979 with a Queen’s Service Medal.  Dorris Bryant died on the 28 August 1987, aged 96 years and is buried in the Hawera cemetery.

 

SOURCES

Obituaries “Taranaki Daily News” and

Taranaki Herald” 31 August 1987.

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