Pearl Kempsell, 96

Born in Kent, Pearl had a very happy life. At 17 Pearl pursued her dream of becoming a nurse. Starting work in Dartford she then moved around the country working as a general nurse, a midwife and fever nurse.

Wanting to further her career Pearl applied for a job in Nairobi, Kenya. She was successful in her application so moved to Africa and doubled her pay! Whilst working in Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Pearl met Prince Philip who was visiting on a state tour with Queen Elizabeth*. 

“I remember meeting him. We all lined up in our best dresses and white gloves and he shook each of our hands and asked us what our role at the hospital was. It was just as Queen Elizabeth had found out her father had died and she was to become Queen. We didn’t know it then but this was a big moment in history, and I was part of it.”  

After several years in Africa, Pearl, her husband and two sons moved back to England where Pearl started work as a nurse in a borstal, a youth detention centre.

“I never had any trouble from the boys living there. They got themselves into all sorts of scrapes but I was always there to help them recover.”

In total, Pearl worked at 17 different hospitals and thoroughly enjoyed her career. 

Life at Abbeyfield 

After her husband died, Pearl found herself living alone in her large house and didn’t feel safe. Wanting to retain her independence, Pearl decided she would like to move into supported housing and chose Darell Jeffreys House in Bedford.

“I’m very independent which is the way I like it. I’ve moved around a lot so I can adapt wherever I am but Darell Jeffreys House feels like home to me. I couldn’t ask for anything better, I’m happy here and I certainly want to spend the rest of my life here.”

Today Pearl enjoys daily walks to the shops and keeping her mind active with books and puzzles, which she says is the secret to a long life.

*For those of you who watch The Crown, Netflix, you might remember this visit from Season 1, Episode 2.

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