For many people Sister Mary Agnes personified Holy Cross Hospital in Haslemere.

Sister Mary became matron at Holy Cross in 1981. At that time the hospital had 100 beds, most of which were used by NHS patients for maxillo-facial surgery, end-of-life care for various cancers, and neurological and elderly care. 

It was clear to Mary the hospital would have to make some major changes to continue to serve the changing needs of the NHS or find an entirely new role. She was determined to continue the hospital’s work in caring for people with severe neurological conditions. 

Thanks to her tireless work, a new building funded by the Sisters’ charity opened in 1992. This was a major improvement on the original TB sanatorium buildings and under her guidance the hospital developed increasingly specialised services, including the care of patients needing ventilators to breathe. 

Under Mary’s guidance the hospital opened an entirely new service for the treatment of adults with addiction to drugs and alcohol called St Jo’s in the 1980s. Loss of funding in 2004 led to St Jo’s having to close, but not before hundreds were helped by Mary’s work.

Mary retired as matron in 2002 but continued to play a leading role in the community and the hospital as Sister Superior. The construction of the hydrotherapy pool and out-patient physiotherapy service in 2009 was inspired by her and continues to help people today. She even represented the hospital during two royal visits.

Sister Mary Agnes made a deep impression on all she met and by her force of personality, ensured that only the highest standards of holistic care were acceptable. She always looked to offer healing support to the most needy and never overlooked the wider circle of people affected by the illness or injury of a loved one. 

Sister Mary Agnes died after a long illness on December 13, 2023.