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Nurse, midwife, tutor and nurse education adviser
Joan Wheeler was closely involved in drafting the act establishing the UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting in 1979. She was often at hand in a box behind the Speaker's chair to advise ministers guiding the legislation through the Commons. Joan was awarded an OBE for this work.
Born in Oswestry, Shropshire, Joan began her nurse training at the Royal Salop Infirmary, Shrewsbury, at the age of 17. She moved to London for midwifery training at a Queen's Institute unit at Paddington, and the Mothers and Babies Hospital, Woolwich.
Returning to the Shrewsbury Infirmary as a sister, Joan taught as an unqualified tutor. She then went to Canada for two years, working at a women's hospital in Toronto.
In 1955 she took a nurse tutor's diploma at Battersea Polytechnic in London, describing this as a life-changing experience. Joan discovered her academic potential and this gave her the confidence to further her career.
From being a tutor in Shrewsbury and at Westminster Hospital, she became regional nursing officer for the south east metropolitan region. Joan was appointed to a senior nursing officer position at the Department of Health and led a team at the Department of Education overseeing nurse training.
Joan developed type 2 diabetes in her fifties and was a campaigner for diabetes research and education. She campaigned for the Social Democratic Party and the SDP-Liberal Alliance. In retirement, Joan moved with four nursing friends to Devon, joining St Margaret's Church, Topsham, and the Women's Institute.
Obituary | June 22 | vol 25 | no 42 | 2011