Royal Free’s social whizz dies

Like the Lydia Bennet character she played in a Hampstead performance of Pride And Prejudice, former Royal Free Hospital secretary Therese Healy was a socialite to the end.

Ms Healy, who died on January 19 aged 93, founded the Royal Free’s retirement fellowship after retiring as social secretary for nurses.

One of her greatest coups was to enlist the services of actor Keith Michell and his family to perform a series of reading and monologues called Family Life at the hospital’s theatre in 1997.

Michell, of King Henry VIII fame, finally succumbed to Ms Healy’s flurry of letters and the two became distant friends.

Full of ideas


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“Her job really was to do interesting things, organise concerts, pantomimes and just generally promoting the social life of the Royal Free before retirement – and after it,” said Richard Owen, of Holly Hill in Hampstead, and a friend for more than 50 years.

“In both her Royal Free posts, Therese was in her element. These jobs defined her – she loved to start things.

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“She was full of ideas and encouragement, energy and enthusiasm and was a relentless, one might say ruthless, recruiter of volunteers.

“If you really didn’t want to lecture to her fellowship, it was advisable to emigrate.”

Ms Healy was born in Wigan in 1918 by Caesarean section in one of the first such births to see both child and mother survive. In 1938, she moved to London to work as a secretary for her godfather, match manufacturer Sir Alexander Maguire.

He found Ms Healy and her mother a house in Tudor Close, Belsize Park, where she lived for the next 65 years.

Ms Healy, known as Dinky to her friends, worked at a Bond Street fashion house and as a secretary at the Irish Centre in Camden Town before arriving at the Royal Free.

After retirement, she founded the fellowship which she led for 15 years, organising meet-ups and trips to Buckingham Palace and Bletchley Park. Twenty fellowship members turned out for her funeral on Monday at St Dominic’s Priory in Southampton Road where she also enjoyed amateur dramatics between the 1940s and the 60s.

Ms Healy moved to a home in Kennington in 2003 where she battled with Alzheimer’s until her death earlier this month.

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