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Paying tribute to Sheila Paddon

Flags at the hospital in Happy Valley-Goose Bay were at half-mast on Tuesday, Aug. 14 in memory of Sheila Paddon.
Flags at the hospital in Happy Valley-Goose Bay were at half-mast on Tuesday, Aug. 14 in memory of Sheila Paddon. - Evan Careen

Sheila Paddon, 97, passed away on Aug. 9. While her last few years may have been spent in St. John’s, Paddon spent the bulk of her life in Labrador and it was to Labrador she returned to be buried alongside her husband, Dr. Tony Paddon, in North West River on Aug. 16.

Her son, Dave Paddon, told The Labradorian his mother was a product of a different time when people had a greater sense of purpose and social responsibility.

Sheila Paddon
Sheila Paddon

“The idea of public service and building a better world was very much a part of who she was,” he said.

Paddon provided The Labradorian with a copy of the eulogy he read at her funeral in North West River. It reads that she was born in 1920 in Essex, England and spent her younger days as a farmer. All of that changed with the Second World War. She became a nurse and helped fight the Nazis.

“It was 9/11 every night for a long time and with the bombs coming down Nurse Paddon ‘did her bit’,” the eulogy reads. “One night her hospital received a direct hit from a V1 flying bomb and one wing of the building was badly damaged with multiple casualties. Mum followed procedure and got under a bed. When the dust had literally settled she emerged in a minor state of shock and lay on the floor trying to collect her wits. Almost immediately a senior nurse was standing over her telling to get to her feet and get to work. No sensitivity training in those days. No formal complaints about bullying. No expressing your feelings. There was work to be done. I wonder if subsequent generations, including my own, would be half as capable.”

He said once the war was over she was looking for a new challenge and found it in Labrador. Her first day there the resident doctor (her future husband) was just heading off on a medical patrol and she was left to figure things out for herself.

“It didn't take long for her first customer to show up,” Paddon said. “A local trapper had severed the tendons in his hand with an axe and she had to re-attach them. She had to find them first as they had retracted up into his forearm. Took a bit of doing I suppose but she found them, hooked them back up and the man was back in business after a bit of recuperation.”

She dove into the work and, being also a midwife, delivering countless babies in the area. She married that doctor who had left her on her own that first day and had four children with him.

Between them the contribution they made to health care in Labrador is invaluable and in recognition of that Labrador Grenfell Health (LGH) flew flags at half-mast at the Labrador Health Centre and Charles S. Curtis Memorial Health Centre on Tuesday, Aug. 14.

“Mrs. Paddon and her husband Dr. Tony Paddon, a former Lieutenant Governor, were prominent figures in healthcare in North West River, the Upper Lake Melville region and to the International Grenfell Association,” said Boyd Noel, chairperson of the Board of Trustees of LGH, in a release. “Their contributions and support, dating back to World War ll, are renowned in our region. Labrador-Grenfell Health would like to extend our condolences to Mrs. Paddon’s family and loved ones and thank the Paddons for their impact on our communities.”

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