Tributes pour in for heroic Shropshire woman who saved countless lives

By Charlotte Bentley | Bishop's Castle | News | Published:

Tributes have poured in for a heroic woman who saved countless lives and achieved legendary status within her community.

Mary Pullen was a Community First Responder in Bishop's Castle, where she was born and lived her whole life, and was known for getting to every call despite not being able to drive.

Mary passed away in September at the age of 76, after a battle with breast cancer, and is remembered fondly by the people of Bishop's Castle for her sheer determination to get to a call by any means possible, even if it meant commandeering a local's car, as is what happened on many an occasion.

Her eldest son of four, Phillip, said there was a big turn out from the community at her funeral on Saturday and that she was hugely important to the town.

"Mom was a first responder for about 14 years and she thoroughly loved it," he said. "That aspect of helping the community was important to her.

"Something that came out after the funeral was that people said when a crisis happened, mom would be a familiar face. She would come through the door and bring a wave of calmness with her."

Mary in the early 60s

Mary initially joined the first responder scheme in the area with her husband, Michael, as they were both in the British Red Cross. First responders provide life saving first aid in those vital minutes before an ambulance arrives.

Phillip said: "My mother was born and bred in Bishop's Castle so she had all the knowledge about the town and all the little streets.


"When dad died she decided, because she could be very strong and determined, that she would carry it on. The only thing was that she could not drive. She had never driven before.

"Mom would go out in her red overalls and backpack. We lived on the main street in the town and she would go out and hijack the first available car and tell them they had to take her to where she needed to go - because people knew her there was never a problem.

"She could be in the middle of a haircut and she would abandon it half way through to get to a call.

Mary in her childhood with some of her cousins


"Bishop's Castle is somewhere that still has a sense of community. It is away from the main hospitals and so they know there has to be a certain level of independence and self reliance."

After being diagnosed with breast cancer twice before, Mary would always return to her first responder work following recovery.

She retired a few years back and 18 months ago was diagnosed again and told the cancer was much more aggressive.

A spokesperson from West Midlands Ambulance Service said: "Mary was one of the best known first responders in Shropshire who many staff came across during her time helping countless patients in their hour of need.

"She was certainly memorable being our only responder who didn’t drive. However, that never dimmed her enthusiasm and she would always find a way to get places; sometimes with a fellow driver but it wasn’t unusual to find her commandeering a vehicle from a local resident; indeed she once got a ride on a tractor - come hell or high water she would get to the call."

Charlotte Bentley

By Charlotte Bentley
Community Reporter - @CharlotteB_Star

Community Reporter at the Shropshire Star, helping under-represented communities to find a voice in Shropshire and Mid Wales. Contact me at


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