Annie Parkes Roche

Author: Sue Rosier
Date published: 04/05/2012


Annie Parkes Roach was born in Camberwell London in 1860, and was for many years the parish nurse for Newbury.

At the annual meeting of the Newbury Parish Nurse Fund in 1894, as reported in the Newbury Weekly News, she is described as a clever, patient, kind and attentive nurse who had 368 patients and had made a total of 3093 visits.  The committee at that time was concerned by her work load, and as they had a surplus on the balance sheets they felt justified in using it to secure the services of an efficient nurse to help, as Nurse Roche was much over-worked and might breakdown at a critical time.  The balance sheet figures show that at that time Nurse Roche was being paid £80 a year for her services. A hospital nurse in London at this time would earn less than £30pa. The chairman is reported as saying that it was a great privilege as they went about to hear the praises lavished on the parish nurse by the poor people she had helped spiritually as well as physically.  He continued: Nurse Roche had worked with a faithfulness which sometimes put the clergy to shame, and was indeed an example to every worker in the parish. 

In a report of the annual meeting of the Parish Nurse Fund for 1896 Nurse Roche’s salary had been increased to £90 a year, she had 448 patients, and had made a total of 4799 visits.

There was also a Ladies Work Party superintended by Miss Roche who met once a fortnight at 6 Salisbury Terrace and who converted old clothing into new garments for her store cupboard.  These clothes she would take to needy patients when required, an example of which follows.

During the autumn Nurse Roche was called to a cottage to visit a child suffering from bronchitis, she found the mother in bed with a young baby and three other children without proper clothing.  Nurse Roche went back to her house to her store cupboard and found some nice warm garments for the children and sheets for the mother’s bed, returning to the cottage she made all the little patients warm and comfortable.

Tragically Annie’s illustrious career was brought to an end by a terrible misfortune.  While dressing a wound, a scratch on her hand became infected and she contracted septic poisoning.  To save her life her arm had to be amputated making it impossible for her to continue nursing.  As a result her health and mind were seriously affected and it became necessary for her to receive institutional care.  She had been so well thought of, that a fund was raised in the parish to ensure she had as much comfort as was possible.

Annie Parkes Roche died on Monday 27th May 1929 at 214 Newtown Road, (Newbury Infirmary) aged 68, the cause of death being Atheroma (thickening of the arteries) and Senility.

Her funeral took place at St. Nicolas Church on Wednesday 29th May, the Rev L.R. Majendie conducting the service.  Mourners included the Mayor of Newbury and members of the Parish Nurse Fund committee, as well as many friends and people she had helped over the years.  Annie was laid to rest in Newtown Road Cemetery in the same grave as her elder sister Jane, who had died in 1904.


Grave position NCH (E)1

Inscription reads

Jane Hatherton Roche, died October 26th 1904 / Also Annie Parkes Roche called to rest May 27th 1929 aged 67 / For many years Parish Nurse of Newbury.


Sue Rosier

Sources:Newbury Weekly News

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