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Obituary: Hazel Stibbe

Hazel Stibbe (nee Rawlinson) was born in Birmingham in 1934.

Her parents were schoolteachers and she spent a happy wartime childhood moving from Birmingham to Bingley and finally Kettering. From an early age she loved science and wanted to become a doctor.

Hazel was always very bright.  She did well at school and was lucky enough to get into Newnham College Cambridge to study medicine.  She did her clinical training at University College Hospital London, qualifying in 1959, a year late due to contracting TB.  She made many life-long friends during her medical training and always enjoyed reminiscing about her medical school days.

Hazel’s first two house jobs were at UCL followed by some general practice locums. She then went on to specialise in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, doing most of her specialist training in Bradford. After qualifying she spent two years as part of a British team who helped set up a medical school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with Professor Coralie Rendle-Short.  This experience touched her deeply, she loved the country and the people but found the conditions heart breaking.

In 1971 at the age of 37 Hazel progressed to a consultant, working at Marston Green Hospital in Birmingham. Hazel worked here for 5 years mainly developing ultrasound then in its infancy.  She later moved to clinical practice at New Cross Hospital Wolverhampton where she stayed until her retirement at the age of 61.

In 1987 Hazel married Paul Stibbe, the widower of a fellow medical student and great friend from her UCH days Judith Dimock.  Such was her local fame that the local newspaper the Express and Star published a news story about the wedding under the headline ‘Top baby doctor to marry’.  Hazel became a step-mother to Paul’s seven children, and later grandmother to their 16 grandchildren, and was a pivotal member of the family.

Hazel had a strong Christian faith and on retirement from medicine went on to the West Midlands ordination course at Queen’s in Birmingham. She was ordained at Lichfield Diocese in 2001. In 2002 Hazel and Paul retired to Montgomery in Mid Wales where they spent many happy years as active members of the community. Hazel worked with several local churches in the area, especially All Saints Buttington.

Paul’s death in 2017 was a great blow for Hazel. She continued to live in Montgomery for a couple of years but with her own health deteriorating she moved to Leicestershire to be closer to family. Her new home was in a church supported housing scheme where she made many good friends.  As her health failed further she moved to a nearby residential home. Despite numerous underlying conditions Hazel was tough enough to fight off Covid twice, but died peacefully on the 6 May 2022 in Kettering Hospital.

Hazel certainly achieved her ambition to help people, making a huge difference to the lives of many through her work in obstetrics and gynaecology, but also through the work she did with the church, the numerous charities she generously supported, and the love and support she gave to her husband, friends and family. Hazel will be sadly missed.