The Royal College of Nursing celebrated its 100th anniversary on Easter Sunday.
The organisation was formed on 27 March 1916 by Dame Sarah Swift, matron in chief of the British Red Cross, with the support of MP Sir Arthur Stanley and matrons from several leading hospitals.
“The journey over the past 100 years is really quiet remarkable”
Starting with 34 members, the college currently represents more than 430,000 people.
During its early years, it championed causes such as a consistent curriculum for nursing education and pioneered the first official register of qualified nursing staff.
Originally known as the College of Nursing, it was awarded its “royal” title in 1939 by King George VI in recognition of its work in preparing for the Second World War. Queen Elizabeth II became the RCN’s official patron in 1953.
The RCN admitted its first male member in 1960 and healthcare assistants first joined in 2001.
College president Cecilia Anim marked the occasion of the anniversary with a visit to the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead.
The celebrations will continue throughout the year, including a special exhibition, The Voice of Nursing, and a photography competition, Care on Camera.
Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “Reaching our centenary is incredibly exciting and offers a great opportunity to look back on just how far the nursing profession has come.
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“The journey over the past 100 years is really quiet remarkable. We are so proud to have represented some of the most caring, hardworking staff who have touched the lives of so many people in Britain,” she said.
She added: “I know I’m biased but nursing is one of the most important professions in the world and this is our opportunity to celebrate each and every member of the nursing workforce – past and present.”