A nurse who spent half a century caring for people has passed away.
On October 1, Irena Beresford-Theurer died from ovarian cancer aged 76, just a year before she retired.
Known to many as ‘Sister Theurer’ – her maiden name – or her nickname Olga, Irena worked on Ward 31 at Worthing Hospital for decades and ran several nursing homes.
Her daughter Natasza Beresford-Theurer paid tribute to her mother and her long career. She said: “Her secret was true grit and determination. She had a passion for helping everybody.
“She didn’t look her age or act her age; she was an amazing, resilient, dedicated lady.”
Born in Poland, Irena came to England in the sixties when she was in her early 20s.
She trained as a nurse at Southlands Hospital in Shoreham. In 1965, she was given a bronze medal for accelerated learning as recognition of her success, which led to her qualifying as a fully-fledged nurse – something that was difficult for a non-UK national at the time, her daughter said.
She spent 30 years at Worthing Hospital, where one of her proudest achievements was helping set up the annual ‘Boxing Day dip’ where staff would swim in the sea to raise money for charity.
A back injury led to her taking early retirement from working at the hospital. But she soon launched herself back into work – but this time, running care homes.
She was a manager at St. Winefrides Residential Home in Rustington and The Hurst Nursing Home in Mill Road, Worthing, which she retired from for good last year.
She also worked at St. Michael’s Nursing Home in Downview Road, Worthing, Camelot Nursing Home in Tennyson Road, Worthing and Guild Care’s Ashmount Care Home.
She was also married for 49 years to her husband Bruce after a whirlwind romance, having met months before at a dance on Worthing Pier. They had Natasza and three grandchildren: Jarvis, 12, Seth, 10, and Evan, six.
Natasza said: “She was completely unique with this infectious zest for life.”
Irena’s funeral will be held at Worthing Crematorium on October 19 at 12.20pm if people would like to pay their respects. The family requested no flowers but asked for donations to Cancer Research UK instead.