Betty Sylvia Sudgen Obituary
Betty Sylvia Sudgen died on 21 January 2016. She was a member of SI Harare from 5 May 1958 until her death. She was an honorary member of the club, an honour bestowed on her on completion of 40 years as a member.
Betty qualified as a Veterinary Surgeon in July 1944 at the Royal Veterinary College in London where she met her future husband, Dick, who left veterinary college to join the RAF. They were married in April 1945 and their son Richard was born in February 1947. The family came to the then Rhodesia in December 1955 and Betty worked as the small animal practitioner with Pete Moll (an Onderstepoort graduate) who took care of the large animal work. After his return to South Africa Betty took over the practice with two other vets. They worked up the practice to a fully equipped surgery in a prime position in Harare with consulting rooms, dispensary, x-ray capability, two operating theatres and a large preparation room for animals on drips, etc. Betty also ran a small clinic at Ruwa, consulting early in the morning before going to the main surgery.
Betty became a Soroptimist in May 1958 (not quite a founder member). She was club President in 1963/64 and National President from 1973 to 1975.
In 1998 SI Harare celebrated her 40 years of membership with Betty, giving a lunch in her honour. Richard has the gifts and signed cards she received on that occasion as well as her badges of membership, safely kept through all the years.
Betty was always involved in the community. She received a Civil Defence Medal for work with the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) during World War 2 – combining this work with being a student. In Zimbabwe, besides Soroptimism, she was an active member of the Women’s Institute and received the first award of Woman in the Community for her work with the WI and Soroptimism. She was a Councillor in the Ruwa district where she and Dick lived in a house with a view far across the veld almost to Mrewa. She had, along with other Ruwa and Melfort residents, a great interest in the Melfort Glen Home for Elderly, involving her Soroptimist club in the work for many years, although this interest passed latterly to SI Vabatsiri, Harare’s second club.
In 1999 Betty published a book entitled A Harvest of Memories, about the Ruwa and Melfort districts and people who lived there. Betty enjoyed walking around her garden accompanied by cats, dogs, peacocks, chicken and guinea fowls. Her house and garden were always available for Soroptimist functions and many an overseas visitor was entertained there to a lunch with club members.
Dick died in July 2001 by which time Betty was semi-retired; she had kept her interest in the Ruwa clinic but no longer travelled to the main surgery. In July 2002, after being attacked and robbed in her home, she left Zimbabwe to live near her son in the Hook area of Hampshire. She lived in Jeffrey’s House in Hook until December 2015 when she went into a care home for the last six weeks of her life.
My thanks to Richard Sugden for information, especially dates, concerning Betty’s life.