Doreen Sylvia Gilmour recently received a surprise in the announcement of this year's Honour's List, awarded by the Queen. Her name was on the list! A member of the Stockport Ward, Manchester England Stake, Sister Gilmour was awarded the distinguished status of MBE (Member of British Empire) by the Queen.
Sister Gilmour has led an interesting and varied life. After leaving school, she became a dancer and toured with a theatrical group for a couple of years. From there, she took up a nursing career at the Parkside Hospital in Macclesfield, training to become a registered nurse, specializing in care of the mentally ill.Before finishing the course, she met and married John Gilmour; three children were born to the couple. As the children grew and developed, it became apparent they were all mentally handicapped. Her hardship increased when her husband, an officer in the Merchant Navy, was lost at sea.
Her mother moved in with her, and between them they brought up daughters Cherry and Louise, and son Andrew. Doreen worked part time at the local psychiatric clinic to support them.
It was about this time that the missionaries knocked at their door, and Doreen and her mother embraced their message and joined the Church. One of Sister Gilmour's first callings was activity counselor in what was then the YWMIA, where her theatrical experience was put to good use.
Through the years, she has served in the Church as a Relief Society president, stake Social Services representative, teacher, and is now the ward and stake public communications director.
After working at the psychiatric clinic, Sister Gilmour then opened her own rest home for the aged, but all did not go smoothly. She could not get planning permission to extend the living quarters in the home, and commuting between her residence and the rest home made life more difficult.
After a couple of years, she sold the home and went to work in the recreation department at Offerton House, a hospital for the mentally handicapped. Again, her theatrical background came to the fore, and she wrote a pantomime for the patients every year for 10 years - a difficult feat since she was working with profoundly mentally handicapped people.
After her own children were grown, had left school and were attending adult training centers, she was able to work full time. She became the first community nurse for the mentally handicapped in northwest England, based in Stockport. She had joined the Royal Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults (MENCAP) when her children were young, and did a lot of volunteer work for them, too. She finally became MENCAP's welfare officer, a position she held for more than 15 years.
Sister Gilmour was a pioneer in many new programs. One was the "advocacy" program - a service she began in the Stockport area that was designed to enable every mentally handicapped resident to call on an impartial person to act as his or her advocate and look after their interests.
Sister Gilmour also established a "sitting service," designed to give a break to parents and other care givers for the mentally handicapped. Much of what she has been able to achieve stems out of her own experience of raising three mentally handicapped children.
As the government's plans to close all hospitals for the mentally handicapped get underway, Sister Gilmour has been heavily involved in training residents to find their places in the community. Her role as a community nurse has changed, and she is now head of a resettlement team, which groups compatible residents into units of three or four in a liaison with social services, which provides accommodation in the community for the mentally handicapped residents.
Sister Gilmour acts as the day care liaison officer, coping with the problems of day clients and their families.
Sister Gilmour's mother, who is 88, still lives with her, as does her widowed and now childless aunt, who is 92. In addition to providing care for her own family, Sister Gilmour's home seems to act as a magnet for many people with problems who visit and phone at all hours of the day and night.
The load Doreen Gilmour, MBE, carries is only too evident, yet it is a load she carries willingly and with love.
The awarding of the MBE - the letters of distinction that are to accompany her name - is but a small token of the recognition to which she is entitled.
Sister Gilmour is the second Church member to have received an MBE in recent years. Fred Bishop of the Brighton (Sussex) Ward was honored in 1985. As a fire station master, Bishop and his team of firemen were first on the scene when Brighton's Grand Hotel was devastated by a bomb; five people were killed and several others were injured. Because of his heroic action during that emergency and 24 years of bravery as a fireman, he was nominated and accepted for the Honour's List.