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Chancellor provides final funding tranche needed for Seacole memorial

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A memorial statue to nursing pioneer Mary Seacole will finally go-ahead after the government said it would stump up the remainder of the money needed to complete the project.

The Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal, which has been overseeing fundraising for the bronze statue for a number of years, said it would be unveiled next year.

“[The] announcement means that Mary Seacole will finally get the recognition she deserves”

Clive Soley

It follows the announcement in the comprehensive spending review on Wednesday that the outstanding funds would be met from banking fines. The statue was among a number of charity projects set to benefit from the fines.

Lord Clive Soley, chair of the appeal, said the funding announcement meant that the UK would finally get its first statue of a named black woman.

Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement document said the appeal would receive £240,000 from banking fines “to facilitate a memorial statue to commemorate Mary Jane Seacole”, who was described in the document as a “nurse and heroine of the Crimean War”.

Lord Soley said: “I am absolutely delighted with this news. It means that we can now complete the installation next spring.

“It was an uphill struggle to raise funds for the statue itself, but that was achieved through the generosity of individual nurses, soldiers and others,” he said.

“However, earlier this year we were hit by an unexpected £180,000 bill for installation and had to delay the unveiling. [The] announcement means that Mary Seacole will finally get the recognition she deserves,” said Lord Soley.

Mary Seacole

Mary Seacole

Mary Seacole

The 15-foot plus bronze statue of Mary Seacole, designed by sculptor Martin Jennings, will sit in the grounds of St Thomas’ hospital, opposite parliament.

Part of the charity funding will also be spent on a memorial garden to commemorate health workers, both civilian and military, who have put themselves in harm’s way in conflict zones or in combating disease, such as during the recent ebola crisis.

No decision has yet been taken about the site of the memorial garden, but discussions will be taking place with a number of hospitals, including St Thomas’.

Lord Soley added: “The army are on board with this and we will be working together to ensure that it is a fitting memorial to military nurses and other healthcare staff.”

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