Matron Myrtle makes final delivery

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A Wakatipu midwife who birthed more than 1000 babies locally has left a generous legacy to the local St John. 

Myrtle Buddle – matron of Queenstown’s former maternity home for 25 years until the mid-1970s – died in April 2009, aged 96. 

It has now emerged she donated $50,000 from her estate to the Order of St John in the Wakatipu – the biggest cash gift received by the local branch in the last financial year. 

Buddle’s close friend Betty Greer, who worked with Buddle as a hospital aide for 20 years, says the former matron was a lifetime member of St John Wakatipu and helped fundraise for the local centre. 

“She wasn’t on call for St John since she was so busy with the hospital, but she tended to all their meetings and that sort of thing,” Greer says. 

“Conscientious” and “methodical”, Buddle delivered plenty of babies but she never had any of her own. 

“She was a person who saved her money and had no family so it was a very worthy cause to donate to – rather than leaving it for other people to go on a world tour,” Greer says. 

Greer also believes it would be “very fitting” if a room at the Wakatipu St John headquarters in Frankton was named after Buddle. 

Buddle’s Aussie-based nephew Rodney Buddle says his generous aunt gifted about half of her estate to various charities. 

“She left quite a bit of money to other places, it wasn’t just St John,” Rodney says. 

He says Buddle was involved with St John youth groups from when she was a schoolgirl – going on trips up the Rees Valley – before branching into nursing. 

Her hefty contribution was part of more than $143,000 in grants and donations collected by the local St John until June 2010 – up about $90,000 on the previous financial year. 

Buddle’s money has gone towards defibrillators, the Wakatipu office says. 

Sadly, towards the end of her life Buddle became a casualty of Queenstown’s elderly-care crisis. 

She was exiled to a rest home in Dunedin, where she died, after being transferred there from Frankton’s Lakes District Hospital in 2007.
– Liz Proctor