Community was at the heart of Nancy Craig’s life, whether it was her church, patients or the university students who worked on the family orchard at Coal Creek, near Roxburgh.
Nancy was described as ‘‘part of the fabric of Roxburgh’’. In 1983 she was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal after being nominated by the Roxburgh community.
Born in Scotland on May 17, 1930, she was named Katherine Anne but known as Nancy because of her father’s fondness for the song Nancy with the Laughing Eyes. Her mother and eldest daughter were also named Katherine.
An idyllic childhood on Carrick, her paternal grandparents’ farm on the Scottish coast, was interrupted by World War 2. Life on the farm included milking cows and making butter and cheese. A love of growing, preserving and preparing food stayed with Nancy all her life.
Nancy left Carrick to train as a nurse atWestern Infirmary, in Glasgow. Her older sister Betty joined her soon after. Nancy continued a lifelong correspondence with many friends from those days.
Nancy went on to qualify as a midwife and worked with Glasgow families who lived in tenements, similar to those depicted in London-based television series and books Call the Midwife. One family named twin girls delivered by Nancy after her: Katherine and Anne.
One of her brothers, Donald, emigrated to New Zealand in 1948 and in 1954 Nancy, Betty and their mother left Scotland to join him in Dunedin. The day after their arrival, the sisters started worked at the Wakari tuberculosis sanatorium.
The following year, Nancy trained as a Plunket nurse and drove her mobile Plunket rooms, a converted Bedford truck, around Corstorphine, Kew and St Clair.
Wilfred Craig’s sister Bess introduced him to Nancy, who already shared the same surname. Bess knew what she was doing and Wilfred and Nancy married on June 7, 1958 at Kaikorai Presbyterian Church before moving to the family apricot orchard and sheep farm at Coal Creek. They ran the orchard with Wilfred’s brother Andy and his wife Marjorie.
During the busy summer fruit seasons, Nancy and Marjorie shared the cooking for the university students who came to pick fruit. Nancy enjoyed the students’ company and the challenge of keeping them fed.
She also packed fruit late into the night, made jam and preserves and milked the house cow twice a day. Wilfred’s mother had suffered a stroked two years before their wedding and Nancy became her main carer. Nancy’s mother lived with the family for many years and was a great help.
Nancy and Wilfred’s first children were twins, Katherine and James, born in 1959. They were followed in 1960 by Elizabeth, Agnes in 1962 and Colin in 1965.
A hard frost destroyed the apricot crop in 1970 so Nancy, ever resourceful, went to work at the Roxburgh Health Camp. That led to children staying with the Craigs if they could not go home when their camp ended, along with short-stay foster children from Dunedin.
In 1972 Nancy was asked to join the Roxburgh medical practice as a nurse. As well as working in the medical centre, Nancy worked in the community from Raes Junction to Moa Flat to Shingle Creek.
The work was always a pleasure, she told The News in 2013.
‘‘It was a real privilege. I just loved the people.’’
Nancy also worked many hours as a Plunket nurse.
She was one of the first practice nurses in the country in 1973, working alongside the doctor to provide the best care to their patients.
The citation for her QSM says ‘‘she has given valuable service in the field of community health in the Roxburgh district. She has served as district nurse, public health nurse, plunket nurse, laboratory nurse, social worker and occupational health nurse. As a nurse practitioner, served as locum in the district when there was no doctor appointed, 1979. A counsellor to young people, she is active in her local church.’’
A close friend of Nancy’s in Roxburgh, Margaret Card, said Nancy was part of the fabric of Roxburgh.
‘‘She was a kind and practical soul and a loyal friend to many.’’
Nancy was a foundation member of the Roxburgh Thrift Shop, which donated all profits to the community.
She made her first trip back to Scotland 37 years after leaving and later made four more trips back.
After Wilfred’s retirement in 1974 they moved to Roxburgh, with Nancy later moving to Mosgiel to be closer to family.
She died on May 9. Roxburgh is her final resting place..