Nurses celebrated the establishment of a new body to support and enhance the standing of the profession at a historic ceremony on Florence Nightingale’s birthday.
The event was the first staged by the new Guild of Nurses, a membership body for nurses across the UK set up by a group who trained in the City of London.
“We aim to offer fellowship and support to older and young nurses alike”
The formation of the guild, a form of professional body that dates back to the Middle Ages, is the first stage towards nursing being recognised in an official City of London livery company, like the Worshipful Company of Grocers and the Worshipful Company of Drapers.
The founders, who trained at St Bartholomew’s Hospital school of nursing, said they wanted nursing to join the livery world because they have seen the benefits of the model first-hand and wanted to “leave a lasting legacy to the nursing profession”.
The guild will act as a grant-giving body, including supporting charities and other organisations working to raise standards of nursing care.
It will also provide support for individual nurses who are disadvantaged or in need of financial help with training or research.
Its inaugural event was held on May 12. Attended by nurses from many different specialities and backgrounds as well as student nurses and retired nurses, it saw Brenda Griffiths installed as the guild’s first “master”.
Ms Griffiths, who worked as an NHS nurse for 25 years, is currently a non-executive director at Hertfordshire Community NHS trust among other roles.
The occasion also saw 45 nurses officially become members by taking an oath to be granted Freedom of the Guild of Nurses.
A reception and banquet were followed by a ceremony based on a centuries-old City custom, where a “loving cup” is passed around diners to symbolise unity, fellowship and trust.
In a unique twist on tradition, two lamps – replicas of those used by Florence Nightingale and her nurses while caring for the wounded of the Crimean war – were blessed and passed among guests.
New ‘guild’ to boost nursing profession’s profile
“Florence Nightingale’s birthday was a fitting date for us to celebrate our newly-formed Guild of Nurses in the magnificent setting of the Guildhall,” said Ms Griffiths.
“We have received such a warm welcome from the City and we are delighted that nursing has taken this first step on the journey towards joining the many noble professions already represented in the City of London’s venerable livery movement,” she said.
“We aim to offer fellowship and support to older and young nurses alike,” she added.
Membership costs £25 a year for full members – known as freemen – plus a one-off £25 joining fee. Membership for student nurses – known as apprentices – costs £10 a year.