Lily Gertrude Garner, St John Ambulance Brigade Volunteer
Macclesfield Auxiliary Military Hospital, July 1916 to May 1917
Lily Garner was born in 1890 in Macclesfield, the daughter of Minnie Bertha and George Garner, a brewer of 15 Byrons Lane, Sutton, Macclesfield. By 1901, all the family apart from George was at 94 Lord Street, the home of Mary Ollerenshaw, Minnie’s widowed mother; Minnie was working as a dressmaker and described as married. In 1911 the family was at the same address and included grandmother Mary Ollerenshaw (64, a dressmaker), mother Minnie (40, a dressmaker, widow), siblings Dorothy (16) and Bertie (10), and mother’s sister Margaret Ollerenshaw (27, a housemaid); Lily was employed as a teacher.
It is not known when George Garner died but Minnie was remarried to Alfred Rowley at St George’s Church, Sutton in 1913.
After leaving school, Lily trained at London Road Day School to be a teacher, and worked first at St Paul’s School and later at Byron Street Council School from its opening in 1912 until her marriage in 1917.
Lily volunteered as a VAD for the St John Ambulance Brigade, working part-time as a nursing sister at Macclesfield Auxiliary Military Hospital for a total of 522 hours from the day the hospital opened, 27th July 1916, until her marriage in May 1917 at St George’s Church, Sutton to Corporal Arthur John Dawson, Canterbury Yeomanry, of Hornby, Christchurch, New Zealand. The Macclesfield Times dated 1 June 1917 printed a report of the wedding:
LOCAL WAR ROMANCE – SOLDIER AND ST JOHN NURSE
A pretty wedding was solemnised at St George’s Church, Macclesfield, the contracting parties being Miss Lily Gertrude Garner, elder daughter of the late Mr George Garner and of Mrs Rowley, 94 Lord St, Macclesfield, and Corporal Arthur John Dawson, Canterbury Yeomanry, of Hornby, Christchurch, New Zealand. The bride was attired in a khaki-coloured costume with big leghorn hat, and was attended by her sister, Miss Dorothy Garner, as bridesmaid. She wore a dress of cornflower blue cashmere with hand embroideries and white hat. Private Ernest Roberts, of the Canadian Black Watch, acted as best man, and the bride was given away by her brother, Mr Bert Garner…
A detachment of St John Ambulance nurses was present in uniform, together with a number of wounded soldiers from Prestbury Road Military Hospital, who formed a guard of honour along the aisle as the bridal party left the church. The happy couple left by the 12.40 train to London en route for Torquay, where the honeymoon will be spent. Their future home is at Hornby, Christchurch, New Zealand. Mr and Mrs Dawson will set sail from Plymouth on Wednesday June 6th.
The bride… served her apprenticeship as a school teacher at London Road Day School… and then took up a post at St Paul’s. From there she went to Byron Street Council School, where she has been since its opening five years ago. A member of the St John Ambulance Brigade, she has rendered voluntary services at the Prestbury Road Military Hospital since last July…
The bridegroom, Corporal Dawson, is the youngest son of Mr T Dawson, formerly of Higher Sutton, who emigrated to New Zealand about 50 years ago. The corporal was born in New Zealand and went through the South African War, for which he holds the King’s and Queen’s medals with bars. On the outbreak of the present struggle he patriotically enlisted in the New Zealand Cavalry. He served in Egypt and Gallipoli and was wounded in both knees. Corporal Dawson returned to England and met Miss Garner whilst on a visit to his aunt at Tytherington; and at the time of his marriage was staying with his cousin, Mrs George Bennett, 26 Mill Lane, Macclesfield. He runs a sheep farm in New Zealand…
After her marriage in 1917, Lily sailed to New Zealand with her husband to live on his family’s farm at 621 South Road, Hornby, Riccarton, Canterbury. Sadly Arthur died less than ten years later in 1926, while Lily died in 1969 at the age of 89. The couple are buried together in Templeton Cemetery, Canterbury, New Zealand.