A FORMER nurse who tended victims of German bombing raids on the Isle of Wight during the Second World War and carried the theme of caring for others throughout her life has died at the age of 98.

Joan Ruth Searle died at her home in West Street, Ryde on June 30.

Born in East Cowes in 1922, she was the second child of shipyard worker Walter Matthews and his wife, Ruth.

She initially worked as a hairdresser in Cowes, subsequently following her nursing vocation, training principally at the former Royal IW County Hospital in Ryde to achieve state registration (SRN) qualification.

It was during her training that she nursed Island residents injured by enemy bombs at Ryde and in the devastating May 1942 attack on Cowes and East Cowes, the Island's worst air-raid.

She met future husband, Rodney, a local government officer – later Ryde Borough Council’s Deputy Town Clerk – who was a patient at the hospital.

The couple married in 1944, taking up residence in Appley, Ryde, and by August 1950 were the parents of three children, Judy, Adrian and Mary.

Mrs Searle returned to nursing in the 1960s, working as a staff nurse on the County Hospital’s private ward, and was later appointed practice nurse at the GP surgery in Melville Street – now relocated at Tower House.

Following retirement, she volunteered in a number of charitable roles. She and Mr Searle worked tirelessly for Ryde group of the IW Physically Handicapped Society and were both trustees of Ryde Sick-Poor Fund – now known as the Greater Ryde Benevolent Trust.

Mrs Searle maintained her involvement with both after her husband’s death in 1989.

By then, the couple had moved from the town to Quarr Hill, Binstead. where Mrs Searle was a member of the congregation at nearby Holy Cross Church, and later, having moved to West Street, at St John’s Church, Oakfield.

She was an enthusiastic worker for St John’s at fundraising and social events.

Never giving in to advancing age, she later volunteered as a waitress at the Chatters café operated by Ryde Baptist Church in George Street.

She shared her husband’s lifelong love of the sea and both were active members of the Tacklers Boating and Fishing Club in Binstead, where their own boat was moored.

Her many other leisure time interests included reading and music. She was a gifted pianist and member of church choirs.

Devoted to her family, Mrs Searle is survived by her three children, six grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren and seven great-great grandchildren.