SHE was an award-winning Southampton nurse with ideas well ahead of her time.

Sonia Hammett, née Martin, has passed away peacefully aged 88 after a lifetime of caring and devotion to others.

Born in Southampton in 1934 to Georgina and Edwin, known as Jo and Teddy, she was one of two children and was always close to younger sister Gloria. She spent the war years in Westfield Road, Regent's Park living with her uncle's family. He was at sea on the Queen Mary and his wife was deaf and unable to hear the air raid sirens. Jo and Sonia became her ears until the end of the war.

Sonia, who attended United Reformed Church gatherings in Portswood, excelled at Southampton Grammar School. The school recommended that she read medicine, but she preferred a more hands on relationship with patients and trained as a nurse.

In 1955, she won Southampton School of Nursing's Gold Medal Award for Nurse of the Year, being presented with the accolade by the Duke of Wellington and making the front page of the Echo.

Daily Echo:

Sonia also qualified as a midwife and hoped to work as a nursing missionary. But, discouraged by her father, she became a staff nurse at the General, before working at the old isolation hospital in Tebourba Way on the fever wards and then worked as a district nurse and midwife, making all visits on her trusty bicycle.

In her 20s, she married Michael Hammett, a former King Edward School pupil. They lived at Otterbourne and Sonia nursed at Winchester Hospital. Following the birth of their son Andrew, the family moved to Thornhill Park Road. She became the family breadwinner when Mike trained as a teacher, taking up the post of Night Matron at Shedfield and cycling seven miles each way to attend.

The family lived for a few years in Swaythling while Mike taught in Eastleigh, before moving to Oxfordshire.

Sonia devoted her time to her family, sadly miscarrying three children before their long-awaited daughter Elizabeth arrived in 1971.

Mike passed away in 1978 after a long illness, nursed at home by his wife.

Daily Echo:

Sonia took woodwork classes in her 50s and, with her son living in Germany and a growing German family, studied GCSE German in her 70s, achieving an A grade.

Her four grandchildren Charlotte, Anotonia, Benjamin and Lukas were her pride and joy.

Sonia's other passions were music from her mum and gardening from her dad, a veteran of El Alamein who, post war, worked as the caretaker in the Echo's Above Bar offices.

Her funeral service has already taken place in Kidlington, where she lived for the last 55 years of her life.