Tributes paid to globetrotting Lancashire nurse who dedicated her life to helping children

A globetrotting nurse who dedicated her life caring for the underprivileged and the poor has died aged 75.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 29th February 2016, 7:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st March 2016, 7:26 am
Tireless: Isabella Kelly helped napalm victim Kim Phuc in the iconic image, below
Tireless: Isabella Kelly helped napalm victim Kim Phuc in the iconic image, below

Isabella Liguori Kelly, who was awarded the MBE for services to nursing, treated Kim Phuc, the girl in the iconic image depicting children fleeing from a Napalm bombing during the Vietnam War.

Isabella’s brother John Kelly said: “She went round the world to places no-one wanted to go, helping people with mud huts who had nothing.

“She never married or had children but she had thousands of children surrounding her. She brought all sorts of faces together. She was totally dedicated to the human race, warts and all.”

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Napalm victim Kim Phuc

Isabella was born in 1940 in Morecambe and went to St Mary’s school before attending the Convent of Mercy Boston Spa. She trained to be a nurse at Preston Royal Infirmary, Billinge Hospital and Whiston Hospital for those suffering from industrial burns.

After her training, she travelled to Zambia where she taught people how to use improvised drips when there wasn’t any proper equipment available.

Many years later, while visiting the grave of William Wordsworth in Grasmere, she met one of her former pupils who she trained in Zambia.

Later she volunteered to assist in a maternity unit in Peru and with the Franciscan Missionaries of Saint Joseph, helped youngsters both in England and across the world, especially in Africa and Latin America.

Napalm victim Kim Phuc

She then did TB nursing in the Seychelles, before travelling to the Barski unit in the-then Saigon caring for children with burns from Napalm and other chemical agents.

A back injury meant a return to England and long service in the Lancaster and Morecambe area as a health visitor alongside her colleague Dorothy Hampson.

According to her brother John, Isabella and Dorothy made a formidable pair and were well-known in the Morecambe area.

It was during this time that Isabella was awarded her MBE for services to nursing.

John said: “She was an amazing person. Her biggest legacy was she never judged anyone. She never smoked, never drank and lived the life of a nun but still got cancer.”

Isabella, of Slyne Road, passed away four years after being diagnosed with lung cancer. She is survived by brother John Kelly, who was deputy head at Ripley St Thomas, Lancaster and her brother Patrick Kelly, who before he retired was Archbishop of Liverpool. Requiem mass will at St Mary’s Church on Thursday, March 3, at 12.15pm followed by committal at Lancaster and Morecambe Crematorium.