Kate Ardill Brice

Katie Louisa Ardill Brice (1886-1955), gynaecologist, was born on 3 August 1886 at Chippendale, Sydney, only daughter of two children of Louisa (born Wales) and George Edward Ardill, evangelists. She grew up in a household with limited means, deeply committed to evangelism and practical charity. Her mother conducted prayer-meetings on an interdenominational basis, was co-editor of Rescue, a suffragist and matron superintendent of the Home of Hope Hospital (later South Sydney Women's Hospital), where she instituted training courses for nurses. Katie graduated MB ChM from the University of Sydney in 1913. Katie did a year's residency at Prince Alfred Hospital and was honorary anaesthetist and out-patients medical officer at South Sydney Women's Hospital. When war started she offered her services to the Australian Army Medical Service and was refused. Travelling at her own expense she went to London and from there, under direction of the British Red Cross Society, to a Belgian hospital. She afterwards served with the British Army at Napbury, the Dover military hospital, and at the Citadel hospital, Cairo. She returned to Australia in 1920, resumed her hospital appointment and established a practice in gynaecology in Macquarie St. On 1 June l921 in St Andrew's Cathedral she married Charles Christie Brice, a law student and later an accountant. There were no children. She joined the health committee of the National Council of Women in 1922, which lobbied strongly for thorough training of medical students in gynaecology and obstetrics and the creation of a chair in obstetrics at the University of Sydney. In her Macquarie St practice she provided a free clinic for wives and children of servicemen. In 1932 she became consultant to the Racial Hygiene Association (later Family Planning Association of New South Wales) and an honorary at its birth control clinic, opened in 1933. Dr Ardill Brice also joined the St John Ambulance Brigade. She was an executive member from 1938, deputy chairman in 1947-48 and its first chairwoman in New South Wales (1950-55). Admitted to the Order of St John of Jerusalem as a serving sister in 1938, she was created dame of grace of the order in 1952. With a stentorian, brash and husky voice, smoking 'perennially', she handled meetings with authority. She was awarded an OBE in 1941. In 1952 in Britain she studied methods of treatment for atomic blast. She died on 3 January 1955.

Heather Radi