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Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell celebrated at Westminster Abbey

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Westminster Abbey was filled with nurses on Wednesday for a special service to commemorate both the life of Florence Nightingale and to mark the centenary of the funeral of Edith Cavell.

A service takes place each year to celebrate Florence Nightingale and is held as close to her birthday as possible on 12 May, now International Nurses’ Day.

This year, the service also marked 100 years since the funeral of World War I nurse Edith Cavell, who was executed in 1915 after helping over 200 Allied troops escape from German-occupied Belgium.

Her body was returned to the UK after the war in 1919. A state funeral was held that year at Westminster Abbey on 15 May, with crowds lining the route as her body was conveyed through London on a gun carriage. On 19 May, her body was reburied at the east side of Norwich Cathedral.

This week’s event was jointly organised by charities the Florence Nightingale Foundation and Cavell Nurses’ Trust.

The former provides nurses and midwives with the opportunity to take part in leadership and development programmes, while the latter offers financial support to struggling nursing staff.

A lamp is carried during the service to commemorate the nursing founder’s famous sobriquet as “The Lady with the Lamp”, which was acquired while caring for troops during the Crimean War.

The lamp is carried through the abbey to the high alter, where it is passed between Florence Nightingale Foundation scholars to represent the transfer of nursing knowledge.

This year it was carried by Florence Nightingale Foundation scholar Lieutenant Colonel Geoff Hall, of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps.

Also in the lamp party, which was escorted by student nurses and midwives from the University of Hertfordshire, were foundation scholars Nayol Santos and Ross Anderson.

In addition, nurses from The Royal London Hospital took part this year by processing through the abbey in traditional uniforms in memory of Edith Cavell who trained at the hospital.

She went on to set up a nursing school in Belgium and worked on the front line during the First World War, where she told her students that they should treat all injured soldiers regardless of their nationality.

As well as the lamp, the Nurses’ Roll of Honour was taken to the alter. It records the names of British nurses who have died in conflict since the start of World War II.

The bearer of the roll for 2019 was Private Rachel Cousins, of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, Joint Hospital Group (North).

She was escorted by three matrons-in-chief from the armed forces – Captain Alison Hofman, Colonel Alison McCourt and Group Captain Fionnuala Bradley.

Readings were given during the service by Dr Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, and Jackie Kelly, dean of the health and social care school at the University of Hertfordshire.

Florence Nightingale Foundation

Clinical professors of nursing in Westminster Abbey 2019

Source: Ross Young Corporate Photographers

Clinical professors of nursing in Westminster Abbey: Natalie Pattison, Michelle Briggs and Christi Deaton

Florence Nightingale Foundation

Royal London Hospital nurses Westminster Abbey 2019

Source: Ross Young Corporate Photographers

Royal London nurses in historic uniform in Westminster Abbey: Tosh Denholm, Emma Staddon and Rosamund Butterfield

Florence Nightingale Foundation

Guild of Nurses at Westminster Abbey 2019

Source: Ross Young Corporate Photographers

The Guild of Nurses were represented in Westminster Abbey by: Helen Pickstone (Master), Brenda Griffiths, Julia Mingay, Frances Davies, Shirley Lee, and Elizabeth Turnbull

Florence Nightingale Foundation

Yvonne Moores Greta Westwood Jill MacLeod Clark

Source: Ross Young Corporate Photographers

Florence Nightingale Foundation chair Yvonne Moores, chief operating officer Greta Westwood and trustees Jill MacLeod Clark

Florence Nightingale Foundation

Edith Cavell banner

Source: Ross Young Corporate Photographers

Edith Cavell banner in Westminster Abbey 2019

Florence Nightingale Foundation

Nurses’ Roll of Honour Westminster Abbey 2019

Source: Ross Young Corporate Photographers

Nurses’ Roll of Honour carried by Private Rachel Cousins in Westminster Abbey 2019

Florence Nightingale Foundation

Lamp party at Westminster Abbey 2019

Source: Ross Young Corporate Photographers

Lamp party and escort processes through Westminster Abbey in 2019

Florence Nightingale Foundation

Lamp party at Westminster Abbey 2019

Source: Ross Young Corporate Photographers

Lamp party processes through Westminster Abbey in 2019

Florence Nightingale Foundation

Lamp party at Westminster Abbey 2019

Source: Ross Young Corporate Photographers

Lamp party and excort at the High Alter in Westminster Abbey 2019

Florence Nightingale Foundation

Nightingale lamp Westminster Abbey 2019

Source: Ross Young Corporate Photographers

Florence Nightingale lamp: The lamp was given by Sir Dan Mason OBE in memory of his mother, Kathleen Dampier-Bennett, and is kept in the Florence Nightingale Chapel in Westminster Abbey

Florence Nightingale Foundation

Lamp party at Westminster Abbey 2019

Source: Ross Young Corporate Photographers

Lamp party: Florence Nightingale Foundation scholars Lieutenant Colonel Geoff Hall,, Nayol Santos and Ross Anderson

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