Mary helped overcome mental health ‘stigma’
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
TRIBUTES have been paid to a psychiatric nurse who did much for the mental health of people in Teesdale, particularly young people.
Mary Allinson, who set up the social and therapeutic group Teesdale Oasis, died on April 11, age 82.
She was the eldest of four girls born to George and Olive Woodward. Originally from Kelton, near Middleton-inTeesdale, the family moved to Hamsterley and later Butterknowle where she attended the village schools
Her daughter Maxine said: “As a child playing house, Mary would create a plan giving each sister a rota of tasks to do. A little later she was allowed to take her sisters on the horse and trap to ride around the village with their horse Blossom.”
In higher education Mrs Allinson learned shorthand and typing, and later secured work as secretary at three schools in Butterknowle, Hamsterley and Woodland.
Her daughter said: “As a young woman, she enjoyed going to dances at Spennymoor where she met her future husband, Ron. Around this time, Mary took the decision to train as a psychiatric nurse.
“She did her training and early practice at Winterton, after which she also worked at the Memorial Hospital in Darlington, but she was most passionate about her community practice in Teesdale, where she worked until her retirement.”
Her Teesdale Oasis group ran in Barnard Castle for many years and later another group was set up in Cockfield led by Sandra Lidster.
She also set up the Focus and Manic Monday groups which aimed at younger people offering a day facility and support.
Mrs Manning said: “She worked at a time where mental health problems had a greater stigma than today and she worked hard to break down this stigma, by running courses and forging links with as many people or organisations as possible.
“Even after retirement Mary continued to care, helping her sister Margaret Brown and even going on holiday to help care for Kenneth (a bespoke tailor in Barnard Castle) as his health deteriorated.”
Ahead of her retirement in 1999 an article in the Teesdale Mercury described her as having “a gentle and concerned manner which makes her ideal for the job, and many people will be sad to see her retiring in a few months’ time”.
Mrs Allinson is survived by her husband Ron, sisters Margaret Brown and Marion Thomas, daughters Gail Ramsden and Maxine Manning, grandchildren Emily, Emma, Chris and Katy, and great-grandchild Annabeth.