Barbara Thomas (1924)


Barbara Thomas was a local girl who attended Presbyterian Ladies’ College at Pymble from 1919 to 1924. During her time at the College, Barbara was a member of the Athletics, Netball and Hockey teams and received her Leaving Certificate in 1923. College records note her as Dux of the College in both 1923 and 1924.

Barbara had already graduated in Arts from Sydney University and was in her second year of medical studies when a sporting career beckoned. She represented Australia internationally as a member of the first Australian women’s hockey team in 1930, staying on in London at the conclusion of the tour to continue her studies at St Thomas’ Hospital. She graduated as a massage student (a physiotherapist in today’s language) in 1933, and joined the staff at St Thomas’, specialising in pre- and post-natal care. She became the demonstrator for the Head of Physiotherapy at St Thomas’, Sister Randell, with whom she developed special pre-natal exercises, established clinics throughout England and collaborated on a book called Training for Motherhood.

In 1937 Barbara returned to Sydney for six months, providing her services to the Department of Public Health to make a film about pre- and post-natal exercises for mothers. During her visit she played in ex-students’ hockey teams competing against current students.

On 10 September 1940, London was bombed during a series of air raids and Barbara was trapped in the wreckage of the nurse’s wing for 12 hours. She died before she was rescued, aged 32 years.

Barbara is buried in Lambeth Cemetery in London.

She is recognised in a Nurses Memorial at St Thomas’ Hospital along with three other nurses. At Pymble, a plaque was placed along the Colonnade in her honour.

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