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FREE, CONSTANCE EMILY (BEM)

 

Constance Free was born on the 17 July 1905 at Stratford, the daughter of Thomas Joseph Thompson Free and Emily Abigail nee Goodland. She was a cousin of Frances  Bayly (Fanny Fantham), and is a sister to Miss Edna Free.

 

Educated at Normanby School, and St Mary's Anglican School in Hawera, her ambition was to become a teacher.  She became a pupil teacher at Opunake High School but the depression of the 1930s prevented her from obtaining official teacher training.  In 1931 she started work at the Hawera Hospital as a clerk, a position she intended to be only temporary.  In 1959 she was appointed accountant to the Hawera Hospital Board and she became secretary to the Hawera Hospital committee in 1969.

 

On her retirement in February 1974, Miss Free's long association with the hospital was acknowledged with the presentation of a cameo brooch. For this service she was honoured with a British Empire Medal in 1976.

 

Miss Free was also associated with the Hawera Horticultural Society for many years and acted as secretary for the South Taranaki District Council of the New Zealand Institute of Horticulture.  In 1969 she was appointed a Fellow of the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture.

 

Miss Free was a stalwart of the Guiding association and was the first Taranaki adult to receive the guides' Star of Merit.  At that time she was the South Taranaki division commissioner of the guiding association.  She became captain of the first Hawera Guide Company in February 1934, a position she held until 1936.  In that year she was appointed district commissioner of Normanby, an area which then included Eltham.

 

She retired from guiding in 1951, but after finishing work at the hospital she was approached to renew her official contact with guiding and in 1976, was appointed divisional commissioner for South Taranaki which extends from Waverley to Manaia.

 

Constance Emily Free died on the 30 March 1978 at Hawera and her ashes are interred with her father at Hawera cemetery.

 

SOURCES

Obituary "Hawera Star" 31 March 1978

Award "Hawera Star" June 1976