Dunkirk veteran and former nurse dies at 97

Date: Friday 25th May 2018
Roland Young
Roland Young

TRIBUTES have been paid to a Dunkirk veteran and former nurse who died at home in Penrith aged, as he described it himself, “97 and a half years young”.

Roland Young in his days with the Middlesex Regiment during WWII.
Roland Young in his days with the Middlesex Regiment during WWII.

Roland Evelyn Young, who was also known as Rey and lived in Croft Terrace, was born in Bamford, Derbyshire.

His father was Maxwell, a Church of England clergyman, and his mother was Juliet Evelyn — her family, the Clays, came from Miller Bridge in the Ambleside area. Rey, who was the youngest of four children, attended the village school in Burnside, near Kendal, and later attended St Michael’s College, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire.

In 1937 he started a three-year course in interior design and furniture making in London where he was a member of a fine choir and also loved classical and sacred music. However, his studies were cut short due to the outbreak of World War II and he enlisted with the Middlesex Regiment. He was one of 338,226 stranded troops who were evacuated from Dunkirk between 27th May and 4th June, 1940.

After the war he began his nursing career in 1947 at Derby City Hospital. He saw the introduction of the NHS the following year, becoming registered three years later, and was also a staff nurse, sister, charge nurse and night superintendent.

In December, 1966, he moved to Penrith to be the matron at the cottage hospital and three years later became the chief nursing officer at the newly built Penrith hospital, which he remained until he retired in 1984.

He was always involved in church life, including the United Reformed Church before returning to the Anglican form of worship. He sang with St Andrew’s Church choir and was a key member of Penrith Singers.

Rey had two children, Heather and Iain, from his first marriage to Betty who was also a nurse and died in 1975.

In 1980 he married Joyce Woodhall, who was a nursing auxiliary in Penrith, and gained her three children —Linda Graham, Dave Watson and Carol Woodhall.

One of his passions was trains and he was part of a dedicated team of volunteers who restored the signal box at Armathwaite, as a labour of love, between 1990 and 1992. In 1997 his family arranged for him to help drive a steam locomotive.

He was keen on fell walking and was a member of Penrith Ramblers. He was also a member of Penrith Hospital League of Friends, ran the Stroke Club and also loved animals and gardening. Rey and Joyce liked to travel and were well known around Penrith. He also liked to try his hand at DIY, with varying results.

As well as wife Joyce and his five children, Rey leaves 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.