Gena Henderson (1918-2010)
For many years Gena Henderson served as district nurse in Dunrossness and Bigton.
She was born at Pitullie near Fraserburgh and as a young teenager decided to become a nurse. She worked at the local hospital until she was old enough to begin her training at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. From there she also trained at Motherwell and Glasgow and then at Edinburgh where she qualified as a Queen’s District Nurse.
During her training Gena had to work in some of the very poorest inner city areas in conditions that would have challenged most folk. However Gena took everything in her stride for as someone said of her, “peerie though she was, she was a formidable force for good”.
In the spring of 1950 Gena came to Shetland on a short-term placement but liked the place so much she decided to stay. After a time she teamed up with Nurse Tulloch and from their home at Brakefield, in Sandwick, they provided a very high level of nursing care for the people in the south of Shetland.
The work of a district nurse was both varied and demanding and Gena coped with everything in her very competent and direct way.
Her tremendous knowledge, ability and skill coupled with her total dedication to her work and her unfailing devotion to her patients, ensured that those in her care received the very best attention. Along with clinical care came social care and Gena so often went out of her way to give people the right kind of support and the right kind of advice. She saw nursing as a calling and she put heart and soul into fulfilling that vocation. As a consequence she was held in the highest regard by her colleagues and by the people in the communities she served. After her retirement, in recognition of her work in the community, Gena was awarded the MBE for services to nursing. She was very proud of her award but she was even more proud of the opportunity she had had to serve the people of Dunrossness and Bigton.
In later years she loved to recount her escapades as a nurse including a late night trip to Fair Isle on the Good Shepherd and an arduous trek to Sumburgh Lighthouse where, because of the snow, she was stuck for nearly a week.
As well as her work in the community Gena was a life-long member of the church. She had a strong faith and a deep desire to serve others. She was ordained an elder in Dunrossness Parish Church in 1982 and she was very dedicated to the work of the Kirk Session.
Gena was an officer in the Boys’ Brigade and she had a great rapport with the boys and proved to be a fine leader. Gena was also an active member of the Boddam SWRI and the “Thursday Lunch Club” and contributed much to them.