Nurse who helped set up Norfolk network of WI markets dies age 87

Felicity Gowing

Felicity Gowing who enjoyed a career as a nurse working in the developing field of open-heart surgery before moving to Norfolk where she became an active member of the WI. - Credit: The Gowing Family

A pioneering nurse who went on to play an active role in her community, setting up the Aylsham WI market, has died age 87.

Felicity Gowing, was born Felicity Buttress in Richmond in 1933 and later moved to Sussex with her family.

After leaving school, she enrolled at The Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St Thomas' Hospital in London. Upon completing her training she became a theatre sister working in the 1950’s pioneering field of open-heart surgery under leading surgeon, Professor Donald Longmore.

In 1961, she decided to turn down a position at Chicago Hospital. Not long afterwards she went on a skiing holiday where she met Bill Gowing, a farmer from Norfolk.

Felicity Gowing (nee Buttress) pictured in the early 1960s.

Felicity Gowing (nee Buttress) pictured in 1962. Mrs Gowing, who was an active member of the Norfolk WI died on January, 17, 2021, aged 87. - Credit: Gowing Family

The couple married in 1962 and Mrs Gowing left London and her nursing career to relocate to Norfolk where she threw herself into rural life, helping to sell farm produce while also raising the couple's three children.


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She also became heavily involved in the Woman's Institute and helped to revive the Buxton branch.

In 1975, Mrs Gowing founded Aylsham WI Market and was instrumental in establishing a network of more than 18 similar WI markets across Norfolk. The WI Markets are now known as Country Markets of which there are many still running throughout the county including in Aylsham.

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Guy Gowing, one of Mrs Gowing's sons, said his mother was very loving and nothing was too much trouble for her. 

He said: "She really cared and she was very proud of what she did with the WI markets, it was part of her life. It was a ritual to drive up to Aylsham market on a Friday with lots of homemade baking and vegetables from Dad's garden."

Mr and Mrs Gowing remained happily married until Mr Gowing's death in 2017.

Mrs Gowing died at Aylsham Manor residential care home on Sunday, January 17, after a short illness.

She is survived by her three children, Anna, Charles and Guy, as well as six grandchildren and step-grandchildren.

A private funeral will be held at St Faith's Crematorium on February 4.

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