Two centuries after her birth, the lasting legacy of ‘Lady of the Lamp’, Florence Nightingale, is being recognised globally in 2020 – which has been declared the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, in her honour, by the World Health Organisation.
Though born in Florence, Italy, she was brought-up in England,and two places that are closely associated with this iconic nursing pioneer are Derby and Hampshire.
Regarded as the founder of modern nursingand best known for her work during the Crimean War (1853-56), Florence fundamentally changed the role of nursing in hospitals, and was a key figure in introducing new professional training standards. But she was also a female icon in her own lifetime, an influential statistician and a leader.
So, it’s no surprise that the 200thanniversary of her birthday (12 May 1820) will still be marked by many despite these challenging times – and at a time when nursing, washing your hands and evidence based-healthcare have rarely been so important
The Florence Nightingale Museum, at London’s St Thomas’ Hospital,is at the very heart of #Nightingale2020.
While it is currently closed, it is hosting a special online exhibition featuring 200 exhibits revealing more about Florence’s life and legacy through objects, people and places. The Museum has also launched a fundraising campaign to help it re-open, when travel restrictions are eventually lifted.
But the formative years of Florence’s own story began in Derbyshire, where she spent her early years, and many summers, at the family’s home, Lea Hurst, overlooking the Derwent Valley, where – once restrictions are lifted – it will once again be possible for visitors to stay in ‘The Florence Nightingale Suite’.
Florence is also one of the ‘stars’ of a new augmented reality initiative in Derby city centre city centre, where aplaque in Derby Cathedral also commemorates her life and work.
Hampshire, where William Nightingale purchased Embley Park at East Wellow near Romsey, became the Nightingale’s main family home in 1825, following their move south from Derbyshire.
While Florence lived most of her post Crimean life in London, she often visited Hampshire. After Florence’s death on 13 August 1910, her remains were transported by train to Romsey, and then by horse drawn hearse to St Margaret’s Church at East Wellow, whereshe was buried in the family vault alongside her parents.
The parish church is the site of her grave; while at nearby Romsey Abbey – Hampshire’s largest parish church, which is itself marking its 900thanniversary in 2020 – will have a new Nightingale stained glass window installed later this year. The ‘Calling Window’ reflects an historical event in Nightingale’s life, at the age of 17, when she said God called her to his service.