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New commemorative £5 coin honours WWI nurse

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The Royal Mint has struck a new £5 coin to honour nurse Edith Cavell, one of the most prominent female casualties of the First World War, as part of a series to mark the centenary of the conflict.

The limited edition coin represents a victory for those who campaigned for the nurse to be commemorated alongside other high profile figures from World War I.

“It is fantastic to know that her bravery and courage is being recognised in this way”

Emma Cavell

The British nurse worked in German-occupied Belgium during the First World War, saving the lives of soldiers from both sides.

However, she was tried for treason and executed by the Germans for helping Allied troops escape across the border to the Netherlands. She was aged 49 when she was shot in October 1915.

The coin depicts a scene showing Ms Cavell tending to a wounded soldier with a portrait-style design of the nurse in her uniform as the background.

Inspired by the words of a poem from the time called “Edith Cavell”, which was written by Laurence Binyon, the coin’s inscription reads “she faced them gentle and bold”.

It was announced in July last year that Ms Cavell would be commemorated with a coin. It followed a campaign started by Sheffield City Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards and an online petition that drew support from over 110,000 people.

The campaign was backed by the nursing charity that bears Ms Cavell’s name and which was created with funds given by the public in the aftermath of her execution.  

Steve Charlton, chief executive of the Cavell Nurses’ Trust, said: “This remarkable coin becomes part of Edith Cavell’s legacy to us all.”

To mark the coin’s release, Ms Cavell’s niece Dr Emma Cavell, and her 10-month old daughter Edith, visited the Royal Mint yesterday.

Dr Cavell said: “We have always known about Edith Cavell. My grandfather used to talk about her all the time and had memories of a postcard from Edith to my great grandfather.

“It is fantastic to know that her bravery and courage is being recognised in this way, and to have the opportunity to strike and accept one of these special coins on behalf of my family,” she said.

“I look forward to telling my daughter about her famous namesake one day, and am sure that she will treasure this coin which honours her relative,” she added.

Shane Bissett, the Royal Mint’s director of commemorative coin and medals, said: “Her humanitarian work was based on her belief that she should help any man without distinction.

“We wanted to recognise the important part that she played in the conflict and the ultimate sacrifice she made for others,” he said.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • It's really good news that Edith Cavell a courageous, caring nurse is recognised and honoured in this way. This will maintain her legacy as one of the many nurses like Mary Seacole that looked after army casualties in the time of war.

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