Former RCN president Dame Sheila Quinn dies

Former nursing leader Dame Sheila Quinn, who worked tirelessly to promote the profession, has died at the age of 96.

Former nursing leader Dame Sheila Quinn, who worked tirelessly to promote the profession, has died at the age of 96.

Dame Sheila was president of the Royal College of Nursing for two consecutive terms from 1982-1986. She died peacefully in Southampton General Hospital last week. Her funeral takes place next week.

 Solent News Agency
Dame Sheila Quinn during her 90th birthday celebrations
at Brendoncare Knightwood nursing home
Picture: Solent News Agency

RCN chief executive and general secretary Janet Davies said she, union members and staff were very saddened to hear of Dame Sheila’s death.

Ms Davies said: ‘She had a remarkable life and the contribution she made to the RCN and the wider profession was immense.

'She worked tirelessly to promote nursing nationally and on the global stage and helped the profession develop into what it is today: highly skilled, confident and widely respected.

'The RCN presidency was just one of many college positions she held and in all of them she worked energetically on members’ behalf.

‘Over the course of a long life, her achievements were many and we all owe her a huge debt of gratitude.’

Multitude of achievements

These achievements include roles in the International Labour Organisation, World Health Organisation and as chief nursing officer for the Southampton University Hospitals.

Born on 16 September 1920 in Blackpool, she trained at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary from 1943-1945.

Dame Sheila first became involved with the RCN as the chair of the student nurses’ section of the Lancaster branch in 1944. She held many roles with the RCN, including deputy president from 1973-1974, council chair from 1974-1979 and president from 1982-1986.


She was also awarded one of the earliest RCN fellowships in 1978, and in 1986 was made a life vice president in recognition of her services to the college and nursing.

In 1978, she was awarded a CBE for her contribution to the profession and in 1987 was made a dame.

Her funeral takes place in Southampton on December 21. For further details email

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