Nurses from around the country gathered yesterday evening in London to celebrate the life and work of Florence Nightingale.
Sam Foster, chief nurse at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, carried the ceremonial lamp at the annual commemoration service at Westminster Abbey.
She was accompanied by Sithembile Chinaire, a diabetes nurse specialist at London Bridge Hospital, and Natalie Yates-Bolton, a nursing lecturer from the University of Salford.
They were escorted by student nurses and midwives from the University of Bangor, Swansea University, Cardiff University and University of South Wales.
Ms Foster and her escort played the leading role in the annual service to pay tribute to Florence Nightingale and celebrate the dedication and professionalism of today’s nurses.
Representing the transfer of knowledge from one nurse to another, the lamp was taken from the Florence Nightingale Chapel and escorted to the abbey’s high altar.
On arrival before the altar, the lamp was handed to Ms Chinaire who, in turn, passed it to Ms Yates-Bolton and then to the dean of Westminster, the very reverand John Hall, who placed it on the alter.
Dr Hall said: ‘We thank God for Florence Nightingale: for her enterprise and heroism, and for the example she has left us.
“We pray that her ideals of compassion, quality of care, and training may continueto inspire and sustain nurses everywhere. We praise God for all those nurses who, like her, have carried the lamp of healing into the dark places of our world.”
This year’s service, on Wednesday 6 May, represented the 50th anniversary of the event, which is organised by the Florence Nightingale Foundation.
Professor Michael Wheeler, visiting professor at the universities of Lancaster, Roehampton and Southampton, addressed the congregation.
He drew attention to Florence Nightingale’s role as an educator, noting that she was not just the “lady with the lamp, but the lady with the book”.
The service took place a few days before 12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth and International Nurses Day.