Shirley Miles, also known as the Pearly Queen, passed away over the weekend after raising $160,000 for the Nelson Tasman Hospice. Photo: Nelson Weekly.

Pearly Queen passes


After 15 years of raising funds for the Nelson Tasman Hospice, Pearly Queen Shirley Miles has died at the age of 83.

Shirley had non-Hodgkin lymphoma and died at Nelson Hospice on Saturday.

Dressed in her distinctive pearly clothes, she had been a feature at the Nelson Market since 2002 and altogether raised $160,000 for hospice.

“She was incredible,” says Nelson Tasman Hospice fundraising and marketing manager Paul McIntyre.

“She went down the market every Saturday with her bucket to raise money and was so determined to do it right to the end.”

Shirley went to her last market just before Christmas and always “just shook her bucket”, never asking people for money.

To be a Pearly Queen you have to have been born in London with one hundred years of London ancestry and with the agreement of fellow Londoners.

Her outfit evolved over the years and featured images significant to Nelson, including waves, anchors, grapes, fishing nets with fish and a large scallop shell, a pine tree, the Nelson cathedral and Shirley’s Civic Award badge for community service.

She was also recognised with a Queen’s Service Medal for her services to charity fundraising in 2016.

Paul says they will be designing a special window in memory of Shirley to go in the new hospice building.

“She’ll be hugely missed by everyone. She was a huge advocate for hospice and was a very special lady – she really personified what hospice was all about. She was very proud of what she did.”

Shirley will be farewelled at 11am on Friday, 23 March at Marsden House with hospice staff planning on wearing pearls in her honour.