Elizabeth Anionwu, emeritus professor of nursing, Thames Valley University.
Elizabeth was formerly head of the Mary Seacole Centre for Nursing Practice (Faculty of Health and Human Sciences at Thames Valley University). She is also vice-chairperson of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal.
The multi-ethnic aspects of nursing and midwifery education, and the practice issues of sickle cell and thalassaemia have been the drivers in Elizabeth’s career. She chose this area of nursing because of her own mixed ethnic heritage and because she believed it was not being adequately addressed.
Elizabeth set up the first nurse-led sickle cell/thalassaemia information and counselling centre, the Brent Sickle Cell Centre, in 1979. This became the model for many other towns and cities and has just celebrated its thirtieth anniversary.
Elizabeth is renowned for having directly or indirectly trained and mentored all the specialist nurses, midwives and health visitors working in this area in the UK, as well as helping develop sickle services in other parts of the UK. There are now over 90 sickle cell and thalassaemia specialist community nurses/ midwives, health visitors and allied health professionals working in more than 40 specialist centres; there are also more than a dozen specialist acute care nurses.
Elizabeth’s influence extends beyond the UK to Africa, Caribbean and other countries worldwide. She was awarded a CBE and remains active in continuing to work to reduce suffering and the high rate of mortality and morbidity associated with sickle cell disease and thalassaemia.