Tributes to quiz loving grandmother who reached the final of Mastermind

Kate Vernon-Parry
Kate Vernon-Parry

Tributes have been paid to a former anaesthetist at Bassetlaw Hospital who lived in Worksop for 45 years before moving to Wales.

Kate Vernon-Parry was born in Stockport on March 23, 1929. She grew up during the Second World War and attended Stockport High School for Girls for all her school life.

She always wanted to be a doctor and after school went on to study medicine at Manchester University.

She was the first generation of her family to go to University and had to defer her entry for a year while the available places were taken up by returning servicemen.

After university she remained in Manchester working her way up through the medical ranks, initially in a general surgical environment, and qualifying as a doctor in 1953.

It was during her time at Reedyford hospital that Kate moved from general surgery and specialised in anaesthesia, her first resident anaesthetist role was at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

And anaesthetics was to remain her specialism for the next 30 years until retirement.

Kate met Vernon, her husband of 50 years, as children but they didn’t become a couple until the end of medical school.

In 1962 Vernon gained a senior registrar role in Northern Ireland and they moved to Ballymena where their children Karen and Jane were born.

Vernon was then appointed Consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician at Worksop Victoria and Kilton Hospitals in 1966 and their son Christopher was born a few years later.

Jane Smith said: "In Worksop mum continued her professional career, standing in for the local anaesthetist who went off to Sweden on a one year sabbatical at Bassetlaw Hospital.

"That stand in lasted a little longer than expected as she remained in that post for almost 20 years, acting as Consultant Anaesthetist, and only stopping in 1983 when an industrial injury forced early retirement.

"Part of dad’s role as a consultant in Worksop was to train his junior doctors and we welcomed many junior doctors from all over the world through our time in Worksop.

"Imagine coming from far abroad and being dropped into a small mining town in a foreign country with a foreign language with your partner spending all day at the hospital.

"Mum made the effort to ensure the wives and families were brought into the local community and made to feel welcome and valued.

"This was all done on top of her own work and family commitments. Many of these doctors who trained in Worksop and then returned to their own countries stayed in touch for many years as family friends.

"We remember when the royal college of obstetricians and gynaecologists world congress was held in Sheffield that mum became a knowledgeable tour guide for the local stately homes for the partners of the attendees and also hosted a coachload of visitors to our rose garden and gave them an English Tea experience at the same time.

"We also fondly remember the annual staff Christmas parties for upwards of 100 people that she catered herself."

In 1982 Kate used all her annual leave to be the truck driver, medical support, laundry woman and general dogsbody for the Robin Hood 82 charity bike ride from Florida to Ottawa. The team consisted of 16 thirteen year old boys from Ranby House School and Harthill Comprehensive in Worksop and various staff members. This too was covered by the Worksop Guardian. This raised money for Save the Children Stop Polio campaign.

Jane said: "A ritual in our house was the quiz show Mastermind. Mum was always good, and we suggested she apply.

"She did so in 1983, and was accepted onto the show. She did a lot of her research while recovering from an operation to address the back injury that had forced her early retirement. "Fortunately, this gave mum a month of enforced bed rest for her learning, and she put this time to good use, with her specialisms being the Swallows and Amazons books of Arthur Ransome and then Beatrix Potter.

"All her appetite for learning came to fruition and she made it all the way to the final, eventually coming third.

"The final was held on HMS Hermes which was an incredible experience. After Mastermind she decided to enter other TV quiz shows, winning the jackpot on $64,000 question with Bob Monkhouse and entering 15 to 1 also.

"From this time on she attended the Mastermind Club annual reunions and enjoyed playing Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble with family and she always won.

"She gave speeches about her time on Mastermind to various local groups and was in the Worksop Guardian after getting through each round."

Kate also enjoyed painting, fly fishing and embroidery, a hobby she kept all her life. With being a full time doctor and three children as well as supporting her husband’s work, there wasn’t much free time until retirement.

Jane said: "Another ritual in the house was every Christmas morning visiting the hospitals to see the newborn Christmas babies.

"Mum and dad were always very proud of their staff and fully understood the sacrifices made by them working on such holidays so wanted to express their thanks in person.

"After dad’s retirement they were able to enjoy travelling the world. They travelled round the world many times visiting family and friends in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Canada and the USA.

"Her favourite place was Fiji and she even canoed a part of the Amazon in her 80s. She enjoyed seeing new places and making new friends and visited every continent apart from Antarctica.

"After dad’s death in 2010, mum moved full time to Abersoch, where we had holidayed as a family since the 1970’s.

"She continued to travel around the world for a number of years but her reduced mobility caused her to stop doing this a few years ago."

She remained fairly independent to the end and took great pride in her grandchildren, Rachel, Megan, Meredith and Emma.

Kate died at her home in Abersoch, aged 90.