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Sister Hilda O.S.R.N was introduced in the 2018 Christmas Special. She was already familiar with the East End and had been in the WAAF during the war, and she had been a nurse before, so she arrived full of confidence. She along with Sister Frances arrived as replacements for Sister Winifred and Sister Mary Cynthia. She had to rein in her bossy tendencies once she arrived in Poplar and is rather strong-willed and this can bring her into conflict with women such as Shelagh Turner, Violet Buckle or Gertrude Wallace nevertheless, Sister Hilda remains a practical, enthusiastic and jolly sort of person. She is played by Fenella Woolgar.

Overview[]

Before she was a nun, Sister Hilda was in the WAAFs (Women's Auxiliary Air Force) during World War 2. She told Sister Frances that it was the lure of free nylons that lured her to join the WAAFs, only to discover it was a lie. By wars end, she had entered the religious life.

Biography[]

Series 8[]

In the 2018 Christmas Special, Sister Hilda telephones Sister Julienne from the Mother House to inform her that Mother Jesu Emmanuel, the Mother Superior of the Order, is terminally ill with a brain tumour and requests that Sister Julienne, Sister Winifred, and Sister Monica Joan return to the Mother House - however, Sister Monica Joan conveniently falls ill on the day of their departure (possibly she faked her illness), and Sister Julienne and Sister Winifred are joined by Sister Mildred, who arrives from Hong Kong with four Chinese orphans, and travels to the Mother House with them.

On arriving at the Mother House, Sister Julienne is taken to Mother Jesu's office by Sister Hilda, and it is in terrible disarray. Sister Hilda also tells Sister Julienne she is the most likely candidate to succeed Mother Jesu, but Sister Julienne is resistant. In the end though, Sister Mildred is elected the new Superior, and she announces two new Sisters will join Sister Julienne in Poplar in due course.

In S08E01, Sister Hilda is sent to work at Nonnatus House with Sister Frances, who has only just qualified and has also just taken her life vows. Sister Hilda is very surprised that the East End has changed so much since she was working there in the war with the WAAFs. In S08E08 she cares for a terminally ill, young cancer patient and helps her patient fulfil her dream of going to a dance.

Series 9[]

In the 2019 Christmas special Sister Hilda was one of the few midwives not to get sick around Christmas time, and some nuns came to fill the gaps in staff. When the midwives get better Mother Mildred thinks this is a good chance to try out opening a Nonnatus branch house in the Outer Hebrides so she takes almost all of the staff apart from herself, Sister Frances and Sister Monica Joan who really wanted to go. Sister Hilda is left in charge for a time, Sister Monica Joan is able to convince her to give her access to the petty cash and to say she was of “sound mind”. And so Sister Monica Joan bought a ticket to the Outer Hebrides and left a note causing Sister Hilda much distress but luckily it ended well.

In S09 E01 Sister Julienne is told that Nonnatus House is to be demolished at some point in the next two years (around 1967). While she chooses to keep this a secret from everyone else she decides to tell Sister Hilda who puts in a word for prayer and agrees not to tell anyone. She also seems to serve as rather a nit nurse at the school next to Nonnatus House and is able to help Sister Julienne crack the code of an expectant mother Tina Atkins when she finds her two children at the school. Unfortunately Tina loses her baby and the two children are soon after adopted together. In S09 E05 Sister Hilda is shown to be running classes, one of the classes she runs is for expectant fathers, a man named Ronald Mallen is planning to be present at the birth of his child and she is supportive of him when most others aren’t. The Mallens baby is delivered by Nurse Crane and Sister Hilda explains that her eagerness for men to be at births stems from her own father taking little interest in her growing up. The baby who the Mallens name Stephen has a birth mark Ronald is worried about, he confides in her the story of his father dying and his mother remarrying to a truly awful man who was no stepfather to him. In S11 E06 Sister Julienne decides to tell everyone that Nonnatus House is to be demolished and thanks her for keeping quiet. In S09 E08 the health board slash the budget and increase the rent, this leads the midwives to put together a petition and Nurse Franklin speaks to the board which secures them a twelve month reprieve.

Series 10[]

In S10 E01 Sister Julienne announces that the midwives will be allying with a private clinic called the Lady Emily to make up for the money and send Trixie there for a trial period. Sister Hilda is adamant that she cannot go into a fancy clinic earing medieval hand me downs, her habit having been worn by a nun named Sister Ermengard who died of old age before the second world war. Sister Julienne agrees that a revised habit could be what the order needs, Sister Hilda then organises a small fashion show showcasing the three habits she designed. Unluckily for her Mother Mildred rejects all three, citing they’d be better suited a office wear that nun habits. When Sister Frances is struggling with a patient who pointed out their divergent paths in life and wonders if a young nun could really understand her patients, Sister Hilda is there to help. She introduces her to gossip magazines in the hopes that they will help her learn. After the midwives find out that the Lady Emily is doing abortions for money Sister Julienne terminates the partnership. Sister Hilda in S10 E03 is assigned to young woman Louise Wrigley, who seems healthy but is determined something is wrong with her, when she calls her to her home and says she vomited blood in the night Sister Hilda notes the blood looks more like that you’d get from a cut rather than vomit. Louise is revealed to have a mental illness instead of a physical illness and is sent to the Linchmere when no other option is available. Sister Hilda asks to volunteer at the Samaritans and learn about mental illness for which she is granted permission.

Shelagh Turner suggests a training scheme for pupil midwives run by Nonnatus house, this is accepted and four pupil midwives end up on the scheme. One of them is Nancy Corrigan who is brought to Nonnatus House by Catholic nuns who have updated their habits making her rather jealous. Sister Hilda is paired with Pupil Midwife Janice Cowan. In the next episode she leaves on a long term refresher course. She returns in S10 E07 to run Nonnatus house as Sister Julienne goes away for her holiday at the Mother House, leaving her to deal with the consequences of Nancy Corrigans revelation that she is an unmarried mother. When Nancy goes missing the two orders of nuns are “at each others throats”. Nancy returns with her daughter Colette, Sister Hilda allows Nancy to stay and resume her training and that they will provide honest references which includes her being unmarried and a mother. But she explains 11% of the babies in the district are illegitimate and she’s no longer sure it’s good set apart anymore.

Series 11[]

Lucille Anderson and Cyril Robinson are getting married, Sister Hilda spent ages making a wedding cake but Mrs Wallace the woman at their church tells her it’s unneeded as they would be following a Jamaican tradition of Jamaican women bringing cakes in a procession. She is rather annoyed by this but she doesn’t let it deter her and decides to host a hen night for Lucille. Unfortunately Lucille gets a black eye (not through any problem on her part) but because she got rather drunk and hit it. Luckily it heals in time and the wedding goes ahead where she is able to include her own cake in in the procession.

In Series 11 we get several examples of while she is devoted to her vows, she does struggle with them more than Her fellow Sisters. When she runs a slide show on the dangers of smoking and talks about her days in the WAAFs, she gets a little bit nostalgic for the taste of cigarettes when describing it but does in job and after that Derek Fleming gives up. In S11 E03 Sister Julienne gets sick not long before the date of the centenary celebration and Sister Hilda is more than enthusiastic to plan the celebrations but Sister Julienne decides that Shelagh Turner would plan it instead and she is rather annoyed at being passed over for “Sister Bernadette, ex nun” but accepts the decision, when the group get talking about the queen she leaves the room after they note her glamorous dresses are becoming more conservative. She is assigned a mother named Orli Rosen in S11 E04, her husband Sammy was once a prisoner in Auschwitz and the only member of his family to come out alive. Because of this he tries to shy away from his Jewish faith, he makes fur clothes for a living and she takes the time to admire a fur coat that looks like one she inherited from her mother but couldn’t keep when she entered the convent. In the end as she arranges for Sammy to have a late Bar Mitzvah as he was in Auschwitz when he was 13 to help connect to his faith. In thanks he decides to offer her a veil based on the fur design she admired.

In S11E07, Sister Hilda cares for expectant mother Edina Corbett whose husband Lionel is a train driver. Edina soon begins experiencing labour pains, but it turns out to be a false alarm. Tragedy later strikes when Lionel, who has been suffering from blinding headaches lately, misses a stop signal whilst driving the train which hits another train and it is derailed. In S11E08, Edina is in actual labour and waiting for her husband. She tells Sister Hilda that Lionel's last train for the day is the 5:19, and the nun looks at the clock, which now reads 7:05. Sister Hilda then finds Miss Higgins in reception, who tells her that the 5:19 has been derailed, and the driver has been killed. Sister Hilda asks Miss Higgins to get confirmation that Lionel is indeed dead before going back to tend to Edina.

Edina eventually gives birth to a baby boy. Sister Hilda smiles as Edina cradles her newborn son in her arms, but her smile fades when Edina says "I have everything", knowing she must give her the bad news. When she and Miss Higgins confirm Lionel's death, Edina is both distraught and angry that Lionel left her to raise two children on her own. It is later revealed that Lionel's headaches were in fact caused by a brain tumour, and that he most likely had a seizure which caused him to lose consciousness and crash the train.

Between the events of the train crash and the 2022 Christmas special Sister Hilda was sent to the Mother House. While she was there Mother Mildred decided Nonnatus House could manage perfectly fine without her, so she took up her midwifery work in Chichester once again. Her absence makes extra work for Sister Frances who was worked very hard, culminating with her breaking her shoulder after falling off her bike in a delivery so both of the newest nuns end up returning to the mother house.

Trivia[]

  • Sister Hilda slept in the room that used to belong to Sister Mary Cynthia who had departed two years before her arrival.

Quotes[]

Oh, greetings. This is Sister Hilda.

- First lines on the show spoken over the telephone.

Gallery[]

Sister Hilda

Original infobox image


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