Sheila Dronfield (1912 – 1996) made a big contribution to public life in York as a doctor, and as a magistrate – she chaired the bench until she retired at the age of seventy. She was also active in her local church serving as a church warden and as a member of New Ainsty rural deanery. An impact of particular note was as a Doctor – as she pioneered Family Planning in York. She wrote ‘A Survey of the Domiciliary Service of the Family Planning Association in York’ c1964. In 1965 the York Press reported on the annual meeting of the York and District Branch of the Family Planning Association where it was stated that one in ten married women in York made use of clinics to receive advice and help from the FPA. ‘Referring to the Branch’s domiciliary work, Dr S Dronfield said that, in spite of clinics, people were given advice in their own homes. Some people simply did not go to clinics, though often they were the ones who needed advice most’. (York Press, 2015)
At a memorial service held in 1996, the Reverend Canon John Young told of Sheila’s kindness to others,– ‘I was in my office and received a phone-call from a distraught woman who had just discovered that Sheila had died and found it very hard to cope — it seemed that a light had gone from her life. I discovered that some twenty-eight years ago as a young mother with a tiny baby and no home she had contacted Sheila, and Sheila had invited her and her baby into her home until other arrangements could be made. And over the years the contact, support and encouragement had continued. I have another memory, too. About a year ago I visited Sheila, and there were two young boys around the place — rather scruffy young lads, but they were needy. She felt that they did not get all the love they might have done from their home, so they came into her house and spent time with her. She had a habit of encouraging people in such circumstances.’ (Young, John 1996)
Sheila was married to John Dronfield who from 1937 – 1967 was Head at St Peters School in York. In 1939 she is listed in the register of that year as School Medical Officer. They had four children.
Young, John, ‘Mrs Dronfield’, The Peterite. Oct 1996
2015. ‘50 years ago’. York Press. 13 March
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