LINNELL, FLORENCE JANE nee HUMPHRIES
Florence Humphries was born in Ealing, London in 1894, the daughter of Robert William and Flora Jane Humphries nee Gillies. She came to New Zealand in 1915, and shortly after was married in Wellington to Ernest Hawkes Linnell.
After farming at Midhirst, the family moved to Eltham and in 1932 came to Hawera where Florence opened a catering business in High Street. The success of their first venture, prompted Ernest to give up his employment and the couple opened a factory, (behind Campbell & Purser, Princes Street) manufacturing almond paste, and Florence played a prominent part in the foundation of the business.
With the outbreak of World War Two, Florence and Mrs W S (Sheila) Fogg, organised a Red Cross transport service which by providing ambulance drivers round the clock seven days weekly, released men for war service. Elizabeth also found time to work many hours in the Hawera Hospital as a voluntary aid and to pass with high honours the tests in nursing, first aid, hygiene and sanitation for her Red Cross Medallion. This was besides heavy traffic exams and a mechanics test in servicing motor vehicles, at which she became so proficient that she could take down and reassemble the entire motor of a car.
After the war, when she saw the difficulties of out-patients in frequent attendance at the hospital for treatment, many walking daily despite disabilities because they were unable to afford regular taxis, Florence conceived the idea of a transport service for such patients, run by a group of about a dozen women under the St John Ambulance Association, each driver giving an afternoon a fortnight. For two years Florence used her own car, then the St John Ambulance purchased a car as the result of an appeal.
Another interest was the South Taranaki Crippled Children's Society, working as a driver for Mr L O Hooker, welfare officer, gave Florence an insight into the work and upon the death of Mr Hooker, she was an honorary field officer, being well-known as a benefactor to many aided by the society.
Her charitable work during the war was honoured with two citations, one from the British Red Cross and the Order of St John of Jerusalem, signed by King George VI and the Queen Mother, "for devoted service to the cause of humanity". The second was that of the Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem which recorded Florence's position as Serving Sister of the Order of St John.
Florence was also instrumental in the founding of women's bowling in Hawera. When her husband laid out a green at their home, Florence was amazed to find an attendance of about 30 at a meeting she convened to start the game among women. A club was formed, using the green at her home ("Reamur" in Fairfield Road) for two years, regrettably with a closed membership because of the limited facilities. The present property in Albion Street was purchased by this club.
In February 1953, Florence was one of the Hawera team to win a dominion fours championship. She also took a kindly interest in the foundation of the Nolantown Bowling Club, to which she gave a handsome trophy.
Florence Jane Linnell died on the 26 April 1955 aged 61 years at Hawera, and is buried at the Hawera cemetery.
Obituary "Hawera Star" 27 April 1955
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