The charity that successfully campaigned for a statue of Mary Seacole has changed name and structure to ensure the Crimea nursing pioneer’s legacy will “inspire future generations”.
The Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal has become the Mary Seacole Trust from today, with a new leadership and updated aims and objectives.
“I am sure that the trust will build on the work of the statue appeal”
The move follows the unveiling of Mary Seacole’s statue, the first to a named black woman in the UK, in the grounds of St Thomas’ Hospital, London, on 30th June this year.
The trust said it planned to announce a detailed programme of work early next year.
Among its stated aims, will be to inspire future generations and encourage people of all ages to embrace Mary Seacole’s “determination, hard work, compassion, entrepreneurial skills and caring”.
It will also work to recognise Mary Seacole’s “role as a nurse”, as well as promoting the values of the NHS, the work of nurses and ensuring there is “not only equality of opportunity but also equality of outcome” within healthcare organisations.
In addition, the charity will “encourage harmony and fairness across our communities and promote good citizenship”.
“There is now an opportunity, indeed a responsibility, to harness the positivity”
Lord Soley, who chaired the 12-year appeal, is standing down following the campaign’s success but will continue as a patron of the reconstituted charity.
He said: “It took a long time to get there, but the statue is now a popular landmark on London’s South Bank and provides a focus for celebration of the UK’s diversity.
“Now we must look to the future,” he said. “The legacy programme will, among other things, link up with the Florence Nightingale Museum, that other heroine of the Crimean War, and create a real learning experience for visitors who will be attracted by sculptor Martin Jennings’ stunning depiction of Mary.
“I am sure that the trust will build on the work of the statue appeal and ensure that Mary Seacole continues to inspire future generations,” he added.
Trevor Sterling, chair of the new Mary Seacole Trust, said: “While the statue of Mary is important in acknowledging her contribution, there is now an opportunity, indeed a responsibility, to harness the positivity from the renewed awareness of Mary and to create a legacy beyond the statue.
“I am excited to assume the position of chair, succeeding the excellent Lord Soley who is to be congratulated for his endeavours achieving such a historic landmark, supported so ably by the many trustees and ambassadors,” he added.
Among the new charity’s trustees are Lisa Rodrigues, a nurse and former chief executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Colonel David Bates, director of Army Nursing Services from 2013-16.
Mary Seacole, a nurse of Jamaican and Scottish heritage, travelled to the Crimea in 1855 and set up the British Hotel to provide meals for soldiers as well as a dispensary for those who were sick or wounded.
She also nursed them on and off the battlefields. She was voted Greatest Black Briton in a 2004 online poll.