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War heroine leaves cash to vets' surgery

PUBLISHED: 15:54 20 May 2009 | UPDATED: 10:42 23 August 2010

GRATEFUL: Practice director David Mason.

GRATEFUL: Practice director David Mason.

VETERINARY staff bought an oxygen generator to treat animals with respiratory problems after a £2,000 donation from a war heroine who died two years ago. The Shrubbery Veterinary Centre, in Perry Street, Northfleet, received a legacy from the estate of Y

VETERINARY staff bought an oxygen generator to treat animals with respiratory problems after a £2,000 donation from a war heroine who died two years ago.

The Shrubbery Veterinary Centre, in Perry Street, Northfleet, received a legacy from the estate of Yvonne Halsey, who lived in Erith.

Mrs Halsey, who died in 2007 aged 90, was born in Boulogne and worked for the French Resistance during World War Two, before she was captured by the Gestapo and tortured.

Vet David Mason, 56, one of the directors of the practice, said: "Yvonne visited the practice regularly, I have known her for more than 20 years.

"To get a donation of this kind is very rare. It is nice to feel appreciated in this way and to think that someone cared enough to do this. It is great news for the practice."

A keen supporter of the Shrubbery, looking after stray cats and dogs rescued by the practice, the money from her estate came through this month.

The equipment is now being used to enrich air into medical quality oxygen, it can then be pumped into cages and is used to treat animals with chest and heart problems. Mrs Halsey was born in Boulogne in 1917 to an English father and French mother and grew up to speak both languages.

She became an international telephone operator, even putting the last call through to London before the German army invaded France in 1940.

She escaped to England, but had to be rescued from the sea after her ship was torpedoed.

She was then recruited by the leader of the French Government in exile, General De Gaulle, and parachuted into France seven times to communicate with the Resistance. The Gestapo eventually captured and tortured her, where she received injuries to her legs which troubled her for the rest of her life.

Mr Mason added: "Yvonne really did have a heart of gold, she was forthright, and she wasn't someone you would want to get on the wrong side of, what you would expect from someone who did what she did during the war.

"Her money means for the first time we have an oxygen generator at the practice and we are very grateful.

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