Born on this day in her namesake town in Italy 1820, Florence Nightingale changed the way nurses were perceived during her time, raising the standards for nursing, and educating nurses.
A woman of great achievements beyond the Crimean war, she was a scientist, a data-gatherer, a writer, a trainer, a manager, an organizer, an analyst, and a campaigner.
From 1857 onwards, Florence was often confined to bed by spondylitis pain or depression caused by brucellosis. In 1859, Florence completed her book Notes on Nursing, the founding work of modern nursing. In 1860 she was elected the first woman Fellow of the Statistical Society and had laid the foundation of modern, professional nursing with the establishment of her nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital in London (now part of King’s College London).
In 1883, Florence received the Royal Red Cross from Queen Victoria and in 1907, she became the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit.
Refusing several marriage proposals, Florence never married nor had any children. Florence died of heart failure in her bed at her London home on August 13th 1910 at 90 years old. Her wishes to leave her body to science were ignored and she was laid to rest at St Margaret’s Church at East Wellow, Hampshire.
International Nurses’ Day has been recognised in the UK since 1965. (President Dwight D. Eisenhower refused to approve a “Nurses’ Day” in 1953). It was in January 1974, when 12 May was chosen to celebrate the day as it is the anniversary of Florence’s birthday. (In 1998, 8 May was designated as annual National Student Nurses’ Day.)
Each year a service is held in Westminster Abbey in London. During the Service, a symbolic lamp is taken from the Nurses’ Chapel in the Abbey and handed from one nurse to another, thence to the Dean, who places it on the High Altar. This represents the passing of knowledge from one nurse to another. A service is also held for her the first Sunday following her birthday at her burial ground.
Today’s Sound of Music Through the Square Window will be dedicated to Florence Nightingale and all the nurses and care workers operating now during these restrictive times. #StayAtHome #StaySafe