Sandra Allen (1941-2021): Nurse who fought racial segregation
A nurse who fought for change when racial segregation frustrated the careers of Black Bermudian medical professionals has been warmly recalled by MPs and senators.
The family of Sandra Allen said she stood as a mentor to generations of nurses.
Her obituary called her “very much her father’s daughter”.
Wilfred “Mose” Allen, who died in 1997, was one of the founders of the Progressive Labour Party known for his uncompromising social and political activism.
His daughter pressed King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for policies that would open up chances for advancement.
Her obituary added: “She was known for her courage and outspokenness, which were crucial ingredients in the nurses’ fight for upward mobility.”
Her mother, Inelda Allen, who died in 2005, worked more than 40 years at the Horizons hotel in Paget.
Joan Dillas-Wright, the president of the Senate, recalled on Wednesday her nursing training with Ms Allen in the UK during the early 1960s.
Ms Allen qualified as a state registered nurse, studying at King George General Hospital in Essex, followed by Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital in London – Britain’s oldest maternity hospital.
Back home, Ms Allen became a district nurse in St George’s and joined KEMH in 1969.
PLP MPs Walter Roban and Michael Weeks paid tribute to Ms Allen’s fighting spirit earlier this month in the House of Assembly.
Mr Weeks added: “She did not mince her words. She stood strong for nurses and the elderly.
“She was a trailblazer, and one of the first Black nurses to come back to Bermuda.”
At the hospital, Ms Allen started on the maternity ward, becoming a nursing supervisor and then assistant director in charge of the Continuing Care Unit.
Her friend and colleague JoAnne Armstrong recounted Ms Allen’s determined advocacy for nurses.
She added: “It wasn’t an easy road, and Sandra, being Sandra, was nearly thrown out of the meetings – but the changes came.”
Ms Allen was a keen traveller with a love of tennis as well as reading and transcendental meditation.
After retiring from the hospital in the late 1990s, Ms Allen became an administrator at the Matilda Smith Williams Seniors’ Residence.
She later worked for the Bermuda Housing Trust for seniors, and volunteered for the Red Cross.
⋅ Sandra Winifred Lovett Allen, a former assistant director for nursing at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital's Extended Care Unit, was born on May 29, 1941. She died on July 10, 2021, aged 80.