Pitcairn has had many non-locals who have served the community in various ways, from schoolteachers to medical professionals. This years induction is one of the latter, a man who served two tenures on Pitcairn as a nurse and a diligent and hard worker. Sadly, he passed away in 2013, and to honour him and his contribution to Pitcairn, we induct Lyle Burgoyne (pictured above with the Pitcairn baby he delivered, Emily Rose Christian).
Lyle John Burgoyne was born on November 5th, 1954 in Warburton, Victoria. He was the oldest of four children. Initially, he lived in Metung, Victoria.
In 1965, the family moved to Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales. Lyle began training as a general and midwifery nurse in 1975 at the Gold Coast Hospital. In 1981 he began working at Murwillumbah Hospital.
Lyle was married for the first time in 1979 when he married Sue Race. They would have three children together, Cameron, Sarah and Hannah. Tragically, Sue was killed in a car accident in 1989 Taking care of the children, Lyle eventually married Jenny Head in 1993, and welcomed her son Joe into the family.
Lyle first came to Pitcairn in 1994 and brought along the whole family. There, he made a name for himself by introducing new plants to the island, such as the Goldfinger banana, and served the community as its nurse until 1996 when they returned home to Australia.
It was thought that this would be the last Pitcairn would see of Lyle, but in 2003 he returned to Pitcairn Island, and contributed more to the island. As always, he served as a nurse, but also, since there was no pastor, he served as the Seventh-Day Adventist Pastor as well. Most notably this time, however, he would also serve as a midwife, when he delivered Randy and Nadine Christian's daughter Emily in 2003, the first baby born on Pitcairn in around 18 years. During his time in the double position as church leader and medical officer, he arranged Sabbath afternoon walks for whoever wanted to take part, also climbing down Rope or down Har God. On Saturday nights he and Jenny had movie nights from their DVD collection for the young people and the children, who all developed a close relationship and trust with Lyle. Lots of us can thank Lyle for getting introduced to online shopping, as Internet was in its childhood on Pitcairn in those days, and he also helped with setting up paypal. He was an avid fisherman, and loved spending time out on the rocks fishing.
After leaving Pitcairn for the final time in 2004 Lyle continued his career as a midwife and nurse, gaining quite the positive reputation in the region. However, one of the arguably greatest accomplishments of his life occurred in 2008 when he first visited an orphanage in Kenya. On seeing the plight of the sick and needy, he set about planning aid for them, and in 2010 he founded Kenya Health. This organization provided free medical care and supplies to the people in Kenya, and his reputation soared. He worked in selflessly tending to those who could not get aid, and frequently journeyed there from Australia. To the children in Africa, he was known as “Uncle Lion. ”
Sadly, in 2012, Lyle was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer. However, this did not slow him down too much, and he still worked on Kenya Health. After an operation he improved, and even made another trip to Kenya in the middle of 2013. Sadly, on returning, it was found that the cancer had returned, and this time it would not go away. Right up until the end he was planning and running Kenya Health, before he passed away on September 28th, 2013. At his funeral, many tributes from Pitcairn Islanders (as well as so many others whose lives were touched by him) were read out to a crowd of over 800 people. In Kenya there was also a ceremony to commemorate his passing. It is abundantly clear that those who knew him will definitely never forget him.
The organization Lyle founded, Kenya Health, has their own website at: https://kenyahealth.org/
The photos are courtesy of the family of Lyle Burgoyne. My thanks go to Lyle's widow Jenny Burgoyne as well as his daughter Sarah Young and his father-in-law Alwyn Race for the information, as well as to Lyle himself.