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Date set for unveiling of Mary Seacole statue at St Thomas'

London SE1 website team

A statue of Mary Seacole - the Jamaican-born woman best known for her care and hospitality to British soldiers in the Crimean War - will be unveiled at St Thomas' Hospital on Thursday 30 June.

Date set for unveiling of Mary Seacole statue at St Thomas'

The date of the unveiling has been confirmed after 12 years of campaigning by the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal to raise the necessary funds for the bronze statue.

MORE £500,000 was raised through donations from thousands of individual supporters as well as several larger donors.

In November last year chancellor George Osborne announced that £240,000 of LIBOR banking fines would be donated to the appeal to pay for the installation.

The statue, created by sculptor Martin Jennings, is said to be the first statue in the UK dedicated to a named black woman.

"We are very grateful to everyone who has supported the statue, and to the many nurses, schools and army units who donated funds for the appeal," said Lord Soley, the Labour peer who has spearheaded the memorial appeal.

"We would also like to thank the chancellor who made this possible with a donation of £240,000 for the installation of the statue.

"The unveiling will be a truly memorable event, and after 12 years of campaigning, we look forward to finally granting Mary Seacole the acknowledgement she deserves for her selfless support of British soldiers.

"The statue will be a fantastic new landmark on the South Bank providing much needed recognition of the contribution black and ethnic minorities have made throughout British history and a celebration of the UK's diversity."

Critics say that Seacole did not have any association with St Thomas' Hospital and question whether it is appropriate to place the statue at a location so strongly linked with Florence Nightingale.

Earlier this year the Nightingale Society wrote to the prime minister David Cameron urging him to make the grant of £240,000 contingent on a site other than St Thomas'.

"Placing the statue at St Thomas' labelling Seacole a "pioneer nurse" would be wrong," said the Nightingale Society in a statement.

"Seacole was not a nurse but proprietress of a bar and restaurant for officers."

Instead, the society suggested Windrush Square, Brixton, or Mary Seacole House in Clapham High Street as possible locations for the statue.

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