Basildon war hero and hospice founder awarded Freedom of the Borough

TWO Basildon heroes have been awarded the Freedom of the Borough.

The recipients were a war hero and the nurse who founded St Luke’s Hospice.

Don Sheppard, 99, and Trudy Westmore-Cox MBE, 83, received the honour from mayor David Burton Sampson.

Mr Sheppard was conscripted into the army in 1940, to fight in the Second World War.

After serving in Algeria and Sicily, he was sent to France to take part in the D-Day landings, where he was wounded by a German bomber.

His jobs after being demobbed in 1946 included laying roads for the New Town.

He has been the chairman of the Southend and District branch of the Normandy Veterans Association for two decades and also does ‘an incredible amount of work’ with the Royal British Legion, said Cllr Burton-Sampson.

Mrs Westmore-Cox immigrated to the UK from Germany in the 1950s, in order to achieve an international nursing qualification.

After moving to Basildon in the 1960s she worked locally as a district nurse for almost three decades, during which time she realised Basildon was lacking any proper service for people needing end-of-life care.

She and her late husband Charles began campaigning for a hospice in the early 1980s. They eventually raised the funds and opened it in June 1990.

Mrs Westmore-Cox has since received an MBE from the Queen for her work.

Mr Sheppard said it was ‘a great pleasure’ to receive the award and that his dream was to see a large war memorial installed outside St Martin’s Church.

He said: “I think we need that for days like Armistice Sunday and Armed Forces Day.”

Mrs Westmore-Cox said: “I have been a nurse all my life. I love my work and helping people. I certainly don’t like to see people hurting and that is why I do what I do.

“I’m so proud of the continuing and growing work of the hospice. To know it has had such an impact on so many lives is incredible.”

Charles Thomson

Chief ReporterEmail: [email protected]