AN IRISH centenarian has passed away less than a month before her 101st birthday.
Mary Frances Hurst, nee Stubbs, died in her nursing home in Surrey with her two sons by her side on January 29.
Mrs Hurst was born in Mallow, Co. Cork on February 26, 1915 and arrived in Britain in 1932.
Coming over, she was under the impression that she was visiting her aunt Nellie for a holiday, but it transpired she had been sent to live in England.
She began working in the kitchen of Epsom Hospital before training as a nurse – a vocation she would dedicate her life to until her retirement at the age of 65.
Her nursing career began in the turbulent years of World War II, when the hospital she was working in was regularly hit by bombs.
She regularly entertained her family with stories of her incredible life over the decades.
One such story told how the nurses’ home where she was staying was hit by a bomb one evening when she was walking home and, remembering her purse was in her room, Mrs Hurst began to scramble through the rubble to retrieve it.
“She remained very aware, lucid and able to talk about her memories until just before the end,” her son Tom told The Irish Post.
“She would give advice to staff and visitors about any range of subjects – how they should behave, if they needed a haircut, what they should eat and so on – the advice was given regardless of the visitor asking for it!”
Mrs Hurst met her husband Harry through her aunt Nellie and the pair wed in 1946, later welcoming sons Christopher and Thomas.
Though her professional and family life was based in England, Mrs Hurst never forgot her Irish roots and regularly travelled home to her native Mallow to visit her parents and siblings.
On February 26 last year, Mrs Hurst celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends.
They visited a local tea shop before returning to Firtree Nursing Home in Surrey, where she was living, for a buffet lunch.
She was proud on her 100th birthday to receive a card from both Irish President Michael D Higgins and Queen Elizabeth II to mark the occasion.
A funeral will take place for Mary Hurst at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Epsom on Tuesday, February 23 at 10am. Mass will be officiated by Mrs Hurst’s cousin, Fr Jimmy Stubbs.
She will be laid to rest beside her late husband Harry in Epsom Cemetery after the funeral mass.