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Clare Harford Perry
August 29, 1933-February 18, 1993
Nurse-midwife, Queen’s Nurse

Nurse-midwife Clare Harford Perry was the second Bermudian to earn the Queen’s Nurse qualification. She was among the first wave of Bermudians to enter nursing schools in the United Kingdom in the years following the Second World War. In August 1954, she and her cousin Gleena Gilbert left Bermuda for the UK, both having obtained a place at Manor Hospital Nursing School in Staffordshire in the West Midlands.

The cousins had received their first introduction to nursing at the Children’s Convalescent Hospital in Dockyard, which Edna Watson and her Committee of 25 opened in 1953. It remained in existence for five years. According to the Bermuda Recorder, Perry was among several women “who seized the only opportunity in Bermuda for them, at that time, to enter her chosen field” when the Convalescent Hospital opened.


Perry, born Jean Annabelle Clare Harford, was a daughter of Algernon and Amy Harford of West Side, Somerset. She attended West End Primary and Sandys Secondary School. She graduated as a State Registered Nurse in 1957, and subsequently qualified as a State Certified Midwife. She then did an 18-month course in district nursing administered by the Queen’s Institute of District Nursing (now The Queen’s Nurse Institute). In 1961, she became the second Bermudian to receive the Queen’s Nurse qualification, after Lorraine Dyer Bizek who became a Queen’s Nurse in 1945. Gleena Gilbert was the third, qualifying in 1962.
The UK opened up extensive vistas for Black Bermudians, who were raised on a segregated and insular island. She took in the many cultural events, such as ballet, live theatre and operas that London had to offer, often in the company of fellow students from the Commonwealth, and also travelled extensively throughout Europe.


Her return to Bermuda in 1961 as a Queen’s Nurse merited an interview in The Royal Gazette. Asked whether she planned to join the district nursing service, she said: “I think I will work at the hospital and get further experience.”

She worked at KEMH, and later moved to the Health Department. In 1964, she moved to New York to work at Roosevelt Hospital. She did additional studies in New York, earning a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University in 1977.

In 1972, she became a member of the Worldwide Church of God. In 1978, she married church deacon James Perry. They moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she died in 1993 at age 59. A funeral service was held at Pearman’s Funeral Home, followed by her interment at St. James Church cemetery in Somerset. Gleena Gilbert, who also moved to New York to work, was in attendance and read her obituary.

Editor’s Note: For Black Bermudian graduates of US nursing schools, the Queen’s Nurse requirement had long struck a sour note. The Bermuda Welfare Society, which established the district nursing service in 1925, required its nurses to be Queen’s Nurses. Future labour leader Dr. E.F. Gordon, an Edinburgh-trained physician, said the UK qualification was not necessary and it automatically disqualified US-trained Black Bermudian registered nurses.  

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August 29, 1933—Is born in Somerset

1953—Works at the Children’s Convalescent Hospital in Dockyard as a trainee nurse

1954—Leaves Bermuda for Manor Hospital Nursing School in Staffordshire

1957—Qualifies as a State Registered Nurse

1958—Becomes a State Certified Midwife

1961—Becomes Bermuda’s second Queen’s Nurse
             Returns to Bermuda and joins staff of KEMH

1964—Moves to New York to work at Roosevelt Hospital

1972—Becomes a member of the Worldwide Church of God

1977—Graduates with a BA degree from Fordham University

1978—Marries church deacon James Perry

February 18, 1993—Dies in Tucson, Arizona

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Clare Perry began her career at the Children’s Convalescent Hospital in Dockyard

Cousins Gleena Gilbert and Clare Perry, second and third from left, as student nurses in the UK in 1955. Clare Perry, pictured with sister Madge C. Clark, received a bachelor's degree from Fordham University in 1977.

Photos: Courtesy Lisa Clark Burns


Further Reading

“One of Four Nursing Students Going to Train in UK”, Bermuda Recorder, August 8, 1954

“Another Bermudian Leaves for Nurses Training in UK”, Bermuda Recorder, October 9, 1954

“Four Bermudians Graduate in Nursing in England”, Bermuda Recorder, December 7, 1957

“Colony Gets its Second Queen’s Nurse”, Bermuda Recorder, October 28, 1961

“Bermudian Qualifies as Queen’s Nurse”, The Royal Gazette, October 30, 1961

“Nurse Tells Group of Experiences in UK”, Bermuda Recorder, June 23, 1962


Additional Sources:

Clare Harford Perry’s funeral programme

Lisa Clark Burns, Niece

Fordham University, Office of Alumni Relations

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