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Hospital building honours Kiwi missionary to Solomon Islands

A new hall funded by the Methodist Women’s Fellowship of NZ has been dedicated at Helena Goldie Hospital in Munda, Solomon Islands to mark the service of former missionary Davinia Taylor.

Davinia Taylor Memorial Hall is the heart of Helena Goldie Hospital’s nurse training programme.

Before she was married Davinia served as a nurse in Munda for six years beginning in 1950. Later she and her husband, Rev Phil Taylor served for another nine in Bogainville.

After she passed away four years ago the MWF executive asked the managers of Helena Goldie Hospital asking how Davinia’s life and work could be remembered. They responded that a building at the hospital’s Nurse’s Training Section would be most suitable.

Currently nurse aids are trained at the Helena Goldie Hospital. After their two year course they return to their own districts to set up clinics. Beginning in 2010 it is hoped that the hospital will have its first intake of students who will be trained as registered nurses.

In attendance at the opening of the hall were members of Davinia’s family. They included Phil Taylor and his daughter Janice Hooper. Janice was born at Helena Goldie Hospital more than 40 years ago this was her first trip back.

Phil says Mark and Elizabeth Leeming from the UK Methodist Church have been appointed to develop the hospital’s new training role. "Elizabeth and Mark are registered midwives and they have been working on an advanced curriculum. The Memorial Hall will be a key facility enabling this to happen. There is a large hall for classes, a library, a kitchen and two flush toilets," Phil says.

Phil says The NZ MWF and supporting congregations can be very encouraged by their efforts in providing the hospital with a fine facility.

"The day of opening was set for 10a.m. on November 27th, finished or not. We arrived five days earlier with much work to be done. Builder Peter Barikana, who trained in Hamilton in the 1970s, and his staff worked past midnight getting the rest of the floor down and the walls and ceilings painted. We were grateful the ceiling fans were working.

"Rev Hari Bea received the key from Peter and dedicated the building. A happy crowd followed him in. It was my pleasant task to hand the building over to the medical superintendent, Dr Dina Sailo," Phil says.

Davinia’s husband Phil Taylor and daughter Janice Hooper were in Munda for the opening of the hall.

"I want to pass on the deep appreciation of not only the medical staff but also the officers of the Church Assembly for this building. My daughter and I were asked to cut the cake."

Phil says it was a thrill others of his family, Thelma and Tony Thompson and his wife Barbara, were also present.

"When Davinia came to the Solomons in 1950 she was one of many self giving young New Zealanders who served as nurses, teachers, accountants, engineers and various tradesmen. War had caused havoc and destruction and we had the dream of rebuilding and helping the Solomon Islanders catch up. Davinia would be surprised to find her name on this building as she could point to many others who equally gave of their best."

Today the only overseas personnel at Helena Goldie are Dina and his wife, both of whom are doctors from South India. Phil says the hospital is suffering financially and staff are not sure when their next salary payments will arrive.

"I suspect many will continue working for nothing but will spend more time in their gardens. We came home greatly encouraged that the hospital and the church are being well led and the people are in good heart."