A cash shortfall is threatening to delay the planned unveiling of a statue to commemorate nursing pioneer Mary Seacole this autumn.
Lord Clive Soley, chair of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal, has warned that funding is needed “urgently” to keep the project timetable on track.
“We are still £70,000 short of the necessary funds to ensure the unveiling goes ahead as planned this year”
The statue is due to be unveiled in the grounds of St Thomas’ hospital in London, opposite the Houses of Parliament. It would be the first statue of a named black woman in the UK.
Lord Soley launched the long-running statue appeal back in November 2003.
He said: “I have found it very difficult to raise funds for a statue and I have been working at it with a dedicated group of trustees since 2003.
“We have raised over £400,000 in cash or kind since 2003, but we are still £70,000 short of the necessary funds to ensure the unveiling goes ahead as planned this year,” he said.
He noted that much of the money raised so far had come from small contributions, from individual nurses and others, suggesting that the project was suffering from a lack of more major donors.
“If we don’t get the outstanding amount within the next few weeks, work on the statue will come to a halt and delay the unveiling for at least six months and possibly longer,” warned Lord Soley in a statement issued on 14 May.
“We need contributions urgently,” he said. “Everything is in place for a truly memorable event in the early autumn.”
The planned design would see a bronze statue backed by a large bronze disc, standing on a plinth made of slate and Portland stone.
Mary Seacole was a contemporary of Florence Nightingale, though her work has often been overshadowed by the latter.
She went to the battlefields of the Crimea in 1855, where she set up the British Hotel close to the war zone.
From here she provided soldiers with food and nursing care, and was also known for riding to the frontline to treat the sick and wounded of both sides on the battlefields.