Great Yarmouth’s first woman police sergeant dies aged 94

Irene Tubby

Irene Tubby - Credit: Archant

A trailblazer who became Great Yarmouth’s first woman police sergeant has died at the age of 94.

Irene Tubby, who worked for the police force in Great Yarmouth for 28 years, died at the James Paget Hospital, on June 10.

Mrs Tubby was born as Irene Wells on March 22, 1922, to a family of six children.

She grew up on Southgates Road, and attended Greenacre School, where she was known for her success in athletics.

Ahead of the Second World War, she joined the army and she was posted to an anti-aircraft warfare unit. Later, she was transferred to the army provost unit with the rank of lance corporal.

During the war, her family was forced to evacuate Great Yarmouth after her younger brother Kenneth was killed during air strikes on the town.

She and her family would return to the town at the end of the Second World War, and after training as a mental health nurse, she worked at the Hellesdon Hospital in Norwich.

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In 1948 she decided to make a career change and join the police force as a WPC.

After just eight years she was promoted to the role of woman’s police sergeant.

Her role saw her lead a specialised unit dealing with jobs ranging from home disputes to the arrests of shoplifters and drunks. The work of a female police officer at the time centred almost entirely around women and children.

And for ten years, Yarmouth police station had two Sgt Tubbys - from 1963, when Irene married Sgt Ted Tubby, until her husband’s retirement in 1973.

She was the last person to hold the role of ‘Woman Police Sergeant,” after the Sex Discrimination Act removed the title of women constables in 1975.

During her career she received four commendations, in 1950, 1960, 1964 and 1975 for diligence in investigations leading to arrests.

She retired in 1976 and after her husband’s death in 1989, she spent the majority of her time as a carer for her elderly mother.

In 2012, she moved into the home of her niece Gillian and her partner Len where she was cared for until her death.

She leaves behind her younger brother Jack Wells.

Mr Wells said: “She lived in a very uniformed family. Me and my twin brother David both worked in the fire service and our father Basil Wells was a chief male nurse at the Royal Norwich Hospital for 31 years.

“Irene lived a very quiet life especially after the death of her husband Ted, but she loved her dog Jasper as well as horses, and she would always make donations to Redwings.

“She will be sadly missed.”

Her funeral will take place on July 6 at 12pm at Caister Holy Trinity Church.