A remarkable Hartlepool woman who was a awarded the MBE for helping to transform the lives of others has died at the age of 91.
Hilda Hamilton, who set up Hartlepool Carers and the North East Kidney Patients’ Association, was presented with the award by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 2002 for her services to charity.
The pensioner, who lived in Blakelock Road at the time, founded the kidney charity in 1966 while nursing her husband, James, who was a kidney dialysis patient.
Following his death in 1992 she worked tirelessly for the cause, raising more than £500,000 for new dialysis machines, holding meetings and being a friend to other patients.
On being given her MBE, Hilda, who was 77 at tht time, said: “I am absolutely delighted to get the award and I will continue my work now.”
Unfortunately two years later ill health and old age finally caught up with her and she retired from her charity work.
We are very proud of everything she achievedEmma Kemp
In 1987, Hilda’s work was recognised when the National Federation of Kidney Patients’ Association presented her with the Ruth Lupton Memorial Award.
She also used to manage a team of patients who took part in the British Transplant Games.
Hilda also had to under-go a hip replacement herself in 1988, but still raised at least £2,000 when she scaled Ben Nevis herself five years later.
A huge range of charities benefited from Hilda’s generous heart throughout the years.
As well as her work for kidney patients, she also founded Hartlepool Carers in 1996, four years after her husband died, realising the need for people who care for a loved one to be able to have a break and meet people.
Of the move to set up Hartlepool Carers, Hilda said: “I’d nursed Jim for 19 years and to be honest I’d lost a lot of my friends because of it.
“I thought there must be hundreds of people in the same position and I wondered how they coped.
“So I got the idea that there should be a volunteer group to go and relieve them.”
With the help of Peter Gowland of Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency, and friend Peggy Mordaunt, the group was formed and is still going strong to this day.
Current manager Karen Gibson said: “It started off as small support network and went from strength to strength, and we now reach over 1,000 carers in the town.
“We were deeply saddened on hearing of Hilda’s death and send our sincere condolences to her family. She was a great lady.”
The pensioner, who died in a care home in Stockton on Tuesday, January 17, said her work had never been an effort because she liked to see the pleasure on the faces of people she helped.
Her great niece, Emma Kemp, said: “She was so well respected in Hartlepool. We are very proud of everything she achieved.”
A funeral service for Hilda, who leaves her sister, Edith Pearce as well as nieces and nephews, will be held at St Joseph’s RC Church in the town’s St Paul’s Road at 11.30am on Wednesday, January 25, prior to cremation at Stanton Crematorium.
Her family have said Hilda requested that black is not worn at her funeral.