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Call to ‘shine a light’ on Florence Nightingale’s bicentenary

London SE1 website team

Nursing leaders are asking the public to 'shine a light' to mark the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale's birth on Tuesday.

Call to ‘shine a light’ on Florence Nightingale’s bicentenary

Tuesday is International Nurses Day and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, who founded modern nursing and pioneered infection control.

2020 has been made International Year of the Nurse to mark the bicentenary of Florence's birth.

Ruth May, England's top nurse, has joined other senior nursing leaders in urging people to shine a light from their window at 8:30pm on Tuesday to mark the day and show their appreciation for all that nurses are doing to save and rebuild the lives of patients with coronavirus.

To mark International Nurses Day and Florence Nightingale's bicentenary, an image of her and a message of thanks will be projected on to her place of work, St Thomas' Hospital, from the Houses of Parliament.

It will also be projected onto the British Embassy in Rome and the Italian Federation of Nurses between 9pm and 11pm.

Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: "International Day of the Nurse is particularly special this year not just because we mark the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth, but because of the extraordinary work all those who have followed in her footsteps are doing in the fight against coronavirus.

"I want to thank each and every one of our incredible nurses who are on the frontline in the battle against the greatest health emergency in NHS history. Their professionalism and skills are helping to save and rebuild countless lives.

"It is a challenging but hugely rewarding career and I would urge anyone inspired by their example to sign up to join us and become a nurse.

"I know how much the public's support has buoyed my colleagues during this testing time. It would mean a great deal if people once again showed their gratitude by shining a light for nurses this Tuesday."

Professor Greta Westwood, CEO of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, said: "Nurses have been on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic, providing expert care and support to patients and their families during these uncertain times.

"Florence Nightingale, herself a trailblazer during her career, would have been proud at the way nurses have followed in her footsteps as pioneers and leaders in the fight against the pandemic. They are truly her legacy today."

The Florence Nightingale Museum at St Thomas' has made its bicentenary exhibition available online.

The museum has launched a fundraising appeal as it risks closure as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

"The interest in Nightingale has never been higher ... but sadly while we are closed her museum is very much under threat," director David Green told BBC London last month.

Responding to news of the museum's plight, former Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey said: "This is a most wonderful small museum and it would be absolutely terrible if it does not survive in the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth".

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