Archbishop Tutu meets King's nurses
Posted on 13/05/2010
Archbishop Desmond Tutu meets King's nurses and midwives [Image: Brian Russell]
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate, Fellow and King’s alumnus, made an address to a congregation of 2000 nurses, midwives, students and health care professionals at a memorial service at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday 12 May to celebrate the life and work of Florence Nightingale in the centennial year of her death.
Florence Nightingale opened The Nightingale Training School, from which the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery at King’s is directly descended, on 9 July 1860 at St Thomas’ Hospital. Archbishop Tutu commented: ‘As a King’s man, I am thrilled and proud that the School she opened at St Thomas’s hospital is now part of my alma mater as the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery.’
In his address Archbishop Tutu spoke of how Florence Nightingale ‘bucked the Victorian system that expected a life of inactivity…she rejected her choices of marriage and childbearing’. Instead she followed what she considered to be her divine calling to be a nurse and pioneered the training of nurses.
Archbishop Tutu went on to praise the work of nurses, at home and abroad, and in places of conflict and poverty, calling their work ‘utterly indispensible…the splendid daughters and sons of this remarkable woman.’ He then called upon the congregation to give all nurses a standing ovation.
The memorial service takes place annually on 12 May, Florence Nightingale’s birthday and also International Nurses Day. The service is an opportunity for nurses, nursing students and healthcare professionals to gather to celebrate the life and work of Florence Nightingale.
Students from the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery at King’s, featured heavily in the service, which was attended by Professor Anne Marie Rafferty, Head of the School. Nursing students from both the School and the Armed Forces met Archbishop Tutu for tea prior to the service and participated in the Procession of the Lamp, a symbolic part of the service where a replica of the lamp used by Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War is carried by a scholar of the Nightingale Foundation and passed between nurses to represent the passing of knowledge from one nurse to another.
Culture and Care
Students from the School also wore prototype uniforms designed as part of an innovative educational collaboration with London College of Fashion (LCF). The project, which was funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Trust Charity, gave second year students from the BA Fashion Design and Development degree at LCF a brief to develop new design proposals fit for the challenges and demands of the 21st century nurse and midwife. The chosen designs, by LCF student Pandora Howard-Griffin, were then made up as a small professionally produced collection for the service.
The service was opened with a piece composed by John Browne, the School’s composer in residence. The sacred choral music piece was inspired by the words of Florence Nightingale and performed by the Westminster Abbey Choir. The residency project, funded by the PRS for Music Foundation (PRSF) and the National Lottery through Arts Council England (London), marks the Florence Nightingale School’s 150th anniversary and is part of its unique and innovative Culture in Care programme, offered to both staff and students, which explores the role that the arts can play in the professional development of nurses.
Archbishop Tutu took his Bachelor's and Master's degrees at King's in the 1960s. He was Visiting Professor in Post-Conflict Societies at King's in the Spring term of 2004 and has been a Fellow of King's since 1978. He is a regular visitor to the College.