|Abstract||The Life of Dr Jane M. Sampson, formerly of Copt Hall, Little Wigborough
Jane Sampson 1926 - 2021
Dr Jane Sampson passed away on Sunday 24th January 2021, at the home of her daughter Alice, in London. She needed care and came to stay with Alice eight months before. She was well known in Wigborough and surrounding villages up to her departure after her husband Anthony's death in 1986. Anthony (Sammy) Sampson was well known in West Mersea yachting circles during the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. He was a Commodore of the Mersea Yacht Club.
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."
Jane was born in 1926, to a father who was a hero of the First World War and a mother who was calm, devout and who loved God. The family lived in Derbyshire and Jane was evacuated to the Lake District during the second world war. Her uncle was a Nobel prize-winning chemist! After training to be a medical doctor, Jane married a farmer, Anthony (Sammy) Sampson and they settled at Copt Hall Farm in Little Wigborough in the 1950s. They had six children, four girls and two boys, and in due time seventeen grandchildren.
Jane wrote a booklet entitled "Reflections of a Grandmother", which was published by Merlin Books Ltd in 1991. [There is a copy in Mersea Museum] Dedicated to Anthony, the book describes Jane's own family when she was growing up, her love of ponies and sheep, her visits to India and Pakistan and brief glimpses of her Christian faith and decision after being widowed to work in a medical clinic in Pakistan to help people.
Jane's son, Robert Sampson, has chosen to live his life as a teacher in Pakistan. He writes the majority of this article for us:-
"You have to stop her!" My mother was about to set off alone to bike across 140 miles of dicey Pakistani roads. What to do? To stop this determined 70-year-old woman in her little red boots was a sensible idea, but this was Jane: "I don't think I can."
Jane Sampson, mother of six, "Granny" to 17, was a woman many of us have thought about trying to stop at some point or other. It took time to appreciate her complex mix of intrepid adventurer, gifted physician and understated follower of her Lord. Thanks to so many of you who loved her well and enjoyed the unexpected perks of walking with her during her remarkable 94 years. Perhaps, like me, there have been times you scratched your head in surprise as she biked off somewhere crazy, or woke you at 5am with one of her grand new ideas, or when you heard she turned up unannounced at a remote abbey to spend a week in silent retreat.
Jane's spontaneous spirit meant her life took some unexpected turns. When her husband died in 1986, she reminded us how she'd always wanted to serve overseas before she married a farmer. So at 65 she was off for a twenty year stint in the remote mountains of northern Pakistan. When she needed a place to retire, she bought a little cottage - sight unseen - in the Lake District, where she'd been evacuated to during the war.
Did I mention the sheep? The kitchen at the Essex farm was overrun with orphaned lambs each spring. Her love of the bleating messy business of caring for the flock was to be a theme in her life. She cared for her patients the same way: walking far into the mountain villages to check if TB meds were being taken. She was never happier than when the nomads camped around the hospital on their way up and down to high pasture - she took care of man and beast alike. For her the x-ray machine worked just as well for donkeys with broken legs. Her care for others was an overflow of her own love of the great Shepherd of the sheep. Her loving service a reflection of her certainty of God's love for her.
Her ideas infected us. The last few days I 've had a flood of emails from those who reminded me how she showed them ways to grow strawberries, or got them interested in botany, birds, beetles , or all things medical. She was constantly learning, I mean, who learns Urdu at 65? She was the oldest doctor to do a tropical medicine course by decades. Jane's inquisitive joy of learning is a rich inheritance she 's gifted us all: "Oh, see there! A kestrel!" "Is that a cuckoo pint?" "Look, I 've found a cowrie shell!" That 's Jane in us, still getting us to wonder.
"I shall not want" was another key ingredient of Jane 's life. A minimalist, who didn't seem to hanker after anything, she gave most of her money away as she lived overseas on her meagre pension. This was the woman who would unplug her fridge to save electricity, had a tiny wardrobe and was famed for cooking runover rabbits and pheasant for dinner. Her certainty that God would provide convinced her she would not want for a thing, and she didn 't.
You blessed her in retirement. It makes me smile to think of the way Keith, Jan and others rescued her from her biking adventures in the Lake District, how Andrew and Margaret drove her to church, Betty and Teresa baked her cakes, Mark and Julie fed her at Mae 's, Anne dropped by for a chat and many in the church embraced her for who she was. I'm sure there are countless other selfless, unheralded ways the Uldale community blessed her besides. Thank you. As her health failed, she stayed thankful, even for my cooking, but she needed more help, and we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to those who cared for her so well. Sally was able to cheerfully get her going in the morning, Loretta helped her make the transition to Alice's house in London and Yasmin's calm and loving support was a perfect match for Jane 's quiet spirit. Thank you one and all.'
Rest in Peace, Jane. You have touched many lives and made the world a better place.
Article published in Mersea Life March 2021
Jane_Sampson.pdf is a PDF format version of this article
An anecdote from a former Colchester dentist:
Dr Jane came to see me, not with a dental problem - she was going to a remote Indian area as a volunteer doctor and, anticipating a likely need to extract teeth, she wondered if I could help with a small selection of forceps!
Dental extractions require definite knowledge and skill so this was a dilemma. It meant choosing forceps that could be used by an amateur for various teeth, with no training, and only very brief instruction from me! I was very doubtful about the viability of this plan, but without any other options I sent her away with my blessings and best wishes.
I did not hear from Jane again ...
Grave of John Anthony Sampson and Jane Margretha Sampson in Little Wigborough churchyard
The Mazengarbs of Copt Hall, Little Wigborough