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Former Cordier Hill head dies

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A WELL-KNOWN nun and former school headteacher has died.

Mother Bernadette of Convent of Mercy Cordier Hill Convent. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 24126048)

Mother Bernadette of the Convent of Mercy at Cordier Hill was in her mid-90s and passed away at the weekend.

She was head of Cordier Hill School until she retired in 1987.

The school closed in 2005 – the same year Mother Bernadette was presented with the Specsavers Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Born in Ireland, she came to Guernsey in 1938. Two of her school friends were nuns and she liked the Christian way of life. Her friends had contacts in Guernsey and they came over to the convent at Cordier Hill, a couple of years before the German Occupation.

The children and five sisters evacuated, but Mother Bernadette decided to stay to look after some remaining elderly sisters. She watched over the premises and managed to keep it intact for the returning sisters. Food was scarce and she made her own tea from blackberry leaves and coffee from carrots.

The convent school opened with just a few pupils, but the number grew and by the end of the war there were about 60.

She was appointed head of the school and Superior of the convent and oversaw extensions to accommodate the growing number of pupils.

New postulants arriving were trained to become useful sisters and to teach in the schools and care for the sick in hospital.

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After retiring she still kept busy.

After winning the Specsavers’ award, she used her prize holiday voucher to make a pilgrimage to Lourdes.

In 2009, she was presented with the Bene Merenti medal by Pope Benedict XVI for her service to the church and Guernsey’s education.

In an interview then she said she was still busy, getting up at 6am and helping in the community.

n Mother Bernadette’s Requiem Mass is being held on Monday at 10am at St Joseph’s Church.

Juliet Pouteaux

By Juliet Pouteaux
News reporter

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