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Chancellor pledges 240k for Mary Seacole statue at St Thomas'

Chancellor George Osborne used his autumn statement to announce that the Government will provide funding for the Mary Seacole statue to be installed at St Thomas' Hospital.

Chancellor pledges 240k for Mary Seacole statue at St Thomas'

The Chancellor revealed that 240,000 raised by the Government from banking fines will be put towards the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal.

The statue – designed by Martin Jennings – is to be installed in the grounds of St Thomas' Hospital, facing the Houses of Parliament across the river.

In September appeal chairman Lord Soley warned that the project would be delayed till 2016 because of an extra 180,000 bill for "unexpected installation costs".

Responding to Wednesday's announcement, 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.

"Supporters of the appeal, including trustees and ambassadors, are to be congratulated for the hard work they put in to make sure the statue was completed.

'However, earlier this year we were hit by an unexpected 180,000 bill for installation and had to delay the unveiling. Today's announcement means that Mary Seacole will finally get the recognition she deserves."

Part of the funding will 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 combatting disease, such as 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."

Jamaican-born nurse/entrepreneur Mary Seacole is best known for her care and hospitality for British soldiers during the Crimean war.

Critics of the memorial argue that Seacole though worthy of recognition had no association with St Thomas' Hospital or formal hospital nursing and some claim that it is inappropriate to place her statue in a setting so closely linked to Florence Nightingale.

Both of the leading candidates in next year's London mayoral election – Labour's Sadiq Khan and Tory Zac Goldsmith – recently pledged their support for the memorial statue appeal.

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