TRIBUTES have been paid to a “remarkable” woman who was a priest at various churches in Ryedale.

Rev Mary “Doreen” Yewdall, who died on May 20 aged 96, was also a long-standing member of the Red Cross and a driving force behind the expansion of the Samaritans in the early 1950s.

Born in Bradford in 1923 as one of two children, she grew up and met her husband Arnold while working in a bank just before the Second World War. They got married in 1943 and were together for 70 years until he died in 2013.

During the war, Doreen worked for the land army, then in 1946, she gave birth to her daughter Lynne. That same year, she was diagnosed with cancer.

Her son Graham Yewdall said: “She fought cancer all her life - it’s amazing.”

Also in the late 1940s she became a nurse with the Red Cross. She would stay involved in the charity for 65 years.

On a weekend trip to London not long after that, Doreen met a man called Chad Varah, the founder of the Samaritans.

Graham said: “They became quite good friends. She was involved in the Samaritans in its infancy.”

She persuaded Varah to open a branch of the charity in Edinburgh, and she herself became a Samaritan, in another remarkably long association that would last 59 years.

The family moved from West Yorkshire to Nottingham in 1954, where they would stay for more than 20 years. Doreen did her teacher training, and taught dress-making and RE. She eventually became head teacher of Berridge Infant School in a deprived area of the city, and wrote a book on social deprivation in Nottingham.

She first took up a role in the church in the early 1980s following the death of her father. After the couple moved to Ryedale in 1991, she became curate at St Peter’s Church in Norton.

She was ordained as a priest at York Minster in 1994, and following that was a priest at churches in Whitwell, Foston, Crambe and Wilton.

She was friends with Dame Christian Howard, the champion of the movement for ordination of women. Before she died in the late 1990s, Dame Christian nominated Doreen for the New Year’s Honours list. Graham remembered his mother’s reaction.

“She went berserk and read the riot act to Dame Christian. She demanded her name was removed. She didn’t want any recognition,” he said.

Doreen spent the last years of her life at Dulverton Hall in Scarborough. Her funeral was held at St George’s Church in Wilton yesterday (Tuesday).

Graham said she was a “remarkable” cook and remembers the apple pies she made in his childhood many decades ago.

He added: “She was the foundation on which our family was based. She was a great fundraiser, a great listener, wise counsel, loved her garden and was very forthright - she didn’t mince her words. She usually managed to get what she wanted but not to her advantage - for the advantage of others. I couldn’t have had better parents.”