The daughter of Thomas and Frances Bannister, Dora was born in Dudley in 1886. In 1901, she was living with her uncle, James Olden, in Heworth, York. She became a certified nurse between 1905 and 1908, working at West Bromwich and District Hospital. By 1911, she was working at the Hampshire County Hospital in Ryde on the Isle of Wight as a hospital nurse. She also trained as a midwife on 21 February 1914, (number 39534), appearing on the Midwives Roll 1915-1931.
Her nursing training was clearly useful during the First World War. On 11 September 1915, she began serving for the British Red Cross, with a rank of “T.N”. (presumably “trained nurse”). Her address by then was given as Ashdene, Clark Road, Wolverhampton. She served in this role until 9 December 1918.
According to the Royal College of Nursing Nursing Registers, Dora became a registered nurse in 1917 (number 2450). Following the war, she worked in various locations including Clapham Common and Cheshire. On 18 October 1933, she departed London for Cape Town, South Africa, and from 1934-1946 she was working in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, South Africa. At some point during this period she appears to have married, as her surname becomes “Pearcey (nee Bannister)”.