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Preparations begin for Mary Seacole statue at St Thomas' Hospital

London SE1 website team

Work has started on the site at St Thomas' Hospital where a statue of Scottish/Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole is to be unveiled later this year.

Preparations begin for Mary Seacole statue at St Thomas' Hospital
Mock-up of the statue to be installed this year

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

The statue – which will face the Hosues of Parliament across the Thames – has been designed by Martin Jennings.

A dedication ceremony was held last summer and now the section of the hospital garden where the statue will stand has been cleared in preparation for the final installation.

Critics 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.

"It will be the first statue of a named black woman in the UK and is an important opportunity to show the kind of country we have become," said appeal chairman Lord Soley of Hammersmith, a former Labour MP.

The total cost of the project is around £500,000 and the appeal must still raise another £80,000.

The appeal has launched a 'Last Lap' campaign to raise the remaining £80,000 and provide funding for a legacy programme.

Josette Simon OBE, who recently became an ambassador for the appeal, said: "A statue of Mary Seacole is long overdue. The world needs to know about this remarkable woman and what she achieved in the face of such adversity. It is the least we can do."

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