Marjorie Plowright bids farewell to 44-year role in public health

Marjorie Plowright has cared for thousands of babies in her lifetime.
The Abbotsford Public Health Unit volunteer has spent much of her free time over the last 44 years at the centre measuring, weighing and preparing infants for nurse visits. But at 89, Plowright is ready for some rest.

Marjorie Plowright has volunteered with public health for more than four decades.

Marjorie Plowright has volunteered with public health for more than four decades.

Marjorie Plowright has cared for thousands of babies in her lifetime.

The Abbotsford Public Health Unit volunteer has spent much of her free time over the last 44 years at the centre measuring, weighing and preparing infants for nurse visits. But at 89, Plowright is ready for some rest.

“I shall certainly miss it though,” she said. “It’s a nice atmosphere. You always find something to laugh at with the children. I never could get over the way they would stare at each other. The little children there always look at each other as if they hailed from Mars or something.”

Plowright left England in December, 1946 on a ship bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia. She arrived in Abbotsford by train a month later to marry her husband Ron. At that time, there were only about 2,500 people living in the city.

The family homestead was situated on 24 acres where a Red Robin restaurant is now located on South Fraser Way.

“It was just rural back then, not like it is now,” said Plowright, who celebrates her 90th birthday on June 30.

The farming community had a grocery store, cafe and post office located near Five Corners in downtown Abbotsford.

Plowright says Fridays were the big shopping night of the week.

“The mayor came out, everybody came out and wandered around Abbotsford,” she added.

Plowright began volunteering with the public health unit at Bradner Community Hall. She remembers having to cut kindling to light the stove every morning in order to warm the hall for patients.

She would spend a couple mornings a week there, looking after about 20 children a day.

More recently, Plowright has been helping out at the unit twice a month, in addition to her weekly volunteer church activities.

“There never seems to be an end to babies,” she added, pointing out that she’s seen several generations pass through her care.

However, over the years Plowright has noticed a decline in volunteers and a lack of youth involvement.

She believes this is a result of people becoming too busy with work.

“When I came here, women didn’t go to work very much,” she said, adding that most volunteers now are women over the age of 60.

“I think it’s worthwhile. It helps the whole community.”

Plowright will work her last day at Abbotsford Public Health Unit on June 23.