St Thomas’ Hospital from the north bank of the Thames. Photograph courtesy of the Gordon Museum. The modern building on the left dates from the rebuilding of the hospital after the Second World War, when it was massively bombed. The pavilion buildings to the right are part of the original hospital, from 1872, designed by Henry Currey, with input from Nightingale.
The Nightingale Society has sent a number of letters to persons concerned with the proposed erection of a Mary Seacole statue at St Thomas’ Hospital. The letters are signed by 8-14 members of the Nightingale society, and are to:
- Simon Stevens, CEO, NHS England, June 2015
- Mayor and Councillors of the London Borough of Lambeth, June 2015
- Sir Hugh Taylor and Sir Ron Kerr , chair and CEO respectively of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, June 2015
- Follow-up letter to Sir Ron Kerr , CEO of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, 15 June 2015
- Five letters: Councillors of the London Borough of Lambeth; Sir Hugh Taylor and Sir Ron Kerr, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust; Cecilia Amin and Janet Davies FRCN, Royal College of Nursing; Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, PC, MP, Secretary of State for Health; Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, September 2015
- Two letters: Sir Nicholas Houghton, Chief of Defence Staff; Sir Nicholas Carter, Chief of the General Staff, September 2015
- George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, 30 November 2015
- Prime Minister David Cameron, 1 January 2016
- Prime Minister David Cameron, 7 April 2016
- Prime Minister David Cameron, 8 May 2016
- Baronesses Amos, Benjamin, and Scotland, July 2016
- Members of Parliament, August 2016
Other letters from Nightingale Society supporters:
Archived letters (2012-14)
To Simon Stevens, CEO, NHS England, June 2015
Simon Stevens, CEO
email@example.comDear Mr StevensRe: Mary Seacole Statue to be ErectedWork is going ahead at St Thomas’ Hospital on the site for the proposed Mary Seacole statue, to be labelled “Pioneer Nurse,” on which we have raised vigorous objections (not to a statue anywhere, but not at Nightingale’s Hospital and not labelling a restaurant/bar owner a “Pioneer Nurse’).
Since the full amount of money has not been raised for the statue, we ask, will health care money go into paying for it?
We expect that, should the installation go ahead, the site will become in time a Monument to Political Correctness, or “Hugh and Ron’s Folly” Sir Hugh Taylor, chair of the Trust and Sir Ronald Kerr, chief executive, have been the great promoters of the statue. Their use of blatantly false material to defend use of the hospital site compounds the wrong. Should St Thomas’ be exempt from normal standards of objectivity, fairness and accuracy?
Nightingale wanted her nurses to be “truthful, honest and trustworthy,” which, apart from the redundancy, we think are still worthy qualities. She famously held that hospitals should, first of all, do no harm, and we might add that they, too, should be honest and trustworthy in their own statements.
To the Mayor and Councillors of Lambeth, June 2015
Dear Mayor and Lambeth Councillors
Re: Site Preparation for Mary Seacole Statue at St Thomas’ Hospital
We have written earlier with concerns about this statue, not about there being one, but its placement and message that someone other than Nightingale was the “Pioneer Nurse” at St Thomas’ Hospital, where her school led in the introduction of professional nursing throughout the world.
Our first question now concerns legal responsibility. Since the money has not all been raised, yet work is going ahead, who will be responsible for paying any missing amount? Lambeth ratepayers? Or will the NHS be expected to reallocate health care money for it?
Has any consideration been given to liability for graffiti, damage, etc? We would expect that the statue, if installed there, would for a time be a place to celebrate “diversity,” as is the plan.
But truth will out. Mrs Seacole was a fine person and worthy of being celebrated, but she was only one quarter black, and never identified herself as black or African. Indeed, she praised her (three quarters) Scottish heritage and disparaged her Creole. “Blacks” and “niggers” in her writing are always other people. See for example, her statement that, if her skin ‘had been as dark as any nigger’s,” she “should have been just as happy and as useful” (Seacole, Wonderful Adventures p. 48) and her references to her “good-for-nothing black cooks” (p. 141) and other not so nice references.
Her business was never a hospital, as is so often claimed, but was in effect an officers’ club. When a writer visited the Crimea years after the war he recalled seeing an “immense heap of broken bottles by the roadside…all that was left behind of Mrs Seacole’s famous store” (Arnold, From the Levant, the Black Sea and the Danube 2:184). The broken bottles may indeed have been the result of Mrs Seacole’s own hammering “case after case” of red wine, when she could not sell it when it was time to go home (p. 196). What happens if the statue site becomes a site for drinking and drunkenness? Who is liable?
To the Chair and CEO of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, June 2015
Sir Hugh Taylor and Sir Ron Kerr
Re: Liability for the Mary Seacole Statue
We are concerned with the announcement that preparation of the site for the Mary Seacole statue is going ahead, even though not all the money has been raised to pay for it.
Who will be responsible for any gap in funding? Will health care money be redirected to pay the costs?
We inquire also about liability for maintenance if the installation goes ahead. What happens when the honeymoon is over, and people begin to realize that Mrs Seacole was not the “Pioneer Nurse” claimed? Or that she was not a “black nurse,” for she did not identify as a black or African but rather disparaged those roots while she praised her Scottish heritage. This is understandable given the mores of the time, but it hardly makes for a good role model.
What happens when Seacole’s own words come to be suspect, as in her statement that, if her skin ‘had been as dark as any nigger’s,” she “should have been just as happy and as useful” (Seacole, Wonderful Adventures p. 48) and her references to her “good-for-nothing black cooks” (p. 141).
Who is responsible if the site becomes a location for drinking and damage, after the honeymoon is over? “Mrs Seacole’s” was effectively an officers’ club, never a hospital, as so often claimed, a source for champagne, fine wines, meals, sherry and catering for officers’ dinner parties. When a writer visited the Crimea years after the war he recalled going past the site, where there was an “immense heap of broken bottles by the roadside… all that was left behind of Mrs Seacole’s famous store” (Arnold, From the Levant, the Black Sea and the Danube 2:184).
The broken bottles may indeed have been the result of Mrs Seacole’s own hammering “case after case” of red wine, when she could not sell it when it was time to go home (p. 196).
The Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, alas, gave such an fallacious presentation of Seacole’s life that people may not realize the risks of the truth coming out, as it often does. Statues can acquire a negative meaning as times change.
To the CEO of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, June 2015
Sir Ronald Kerr
Chief Executive Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
June 15, 2015
Dear Sir Ron
Thank you for your reply of June 9 2015.
We are very aware of the misinformation Lord Soley and his organization put out. If he has made any retractions or apologies, we would be glad to hear of them, so contact would be welcome. Thank you.
We note that the statue campaign website no longer displays the Crimean medal with 4 clasps, which Seacole did not win. However, no apology for the false claim has ever appeared.
That Lord Soley’s organization supplies misinformation does not justify the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust using it. We note that neither you nor Sir Hugh has ever given so much as one instance to justify the title “Pioneer Nurse” on the planned statue. We ask again. Failure to document any pioneering nursing should mean removal of the claim on the statue. Please respond.
We note your response that Trust funds will not go to funding the statue, but remain concerned about site preparation. Will a hole be left if the money is not raised? Who pays for looking after an empty site? Did anyone calculate the extra security that will likely be required when the statue loses its lustre? i.e., when political correctness no longer holds sway and people resent being taken in by your propaganda campaign?
Finally, we note the failure of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust ever to retract the misinformation it circulated in 2011 to justify the statue in the first place. We remain with Nightingale in the view that nurses should be “honest, truthful and trustworthy,” and would want the hospital of her school to meet this standard, too. That you have not requires attention and redress.
copy: Dr Ronald Trubuhovich, OMNZ, FRCA, FANZCA–whose letter to you with pertinent concerns remains unanswered
To the Mayor and Councillors of Lambeth; and
Sir Hugh Taylor and Sir Ron Kerr, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust; and
Cecilia Amin, president, and Janet Davies FRCN, chief executive, Royal College of Nursing; and
Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, PC, MP, Secretary of State for Health; and
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
Sept. 14, 2015
Is the Seacole Statue Jinxed?
We note the “delay” in unveiling a Mary Seacole statue in the garden of Nightingale’s hospital, St Thomas’, announced by Lord Soley, chair of the Seacole memorial campaign. The cause was a shortfall of nearly £200,000, the result of “soaring” construction costs. Yet the site has already been cleared and was even “blessed”!! before the fundraising was completed. We ask:
- Who authorized the site clearing, an ongoing eyesore? We understand that planning permission lapses after three years, over last April. Work should not have gone ahead without the full funding in place.
- Who pays for filling in and fixing up the site? Will NHS health care money be diverted for this purpose?
- The missing evidence for the “Pioneer Nurse” appellation. We have yet to receive an answer to our questions as to when and at what hospitals Seacole ever nursed, let alone gave her “life’s work” to developing nursing in England.
- What impact will a statue, or an empty site for one, have on the Bicentenary celebration of Nightingale’s birth, to take place in 2020? Should nurses be told not to come to London for Bicentenary events? Or to avoid Lambeth and St Thomas’?
TIME TO RETHINK!
We suggest that it is time to rethink the project. We do not at all object to celebrating Seacole’s life, as a businesswoman, volunteer and the author of a fine memoir–which never claimed “pioneer nursing”–but not as the founder of nursing.
We note the ties Seacole had with her late husband’s family in Lambeth, notably of Florence Seacole Kent, who married and lived there. Why not a site where Seacole had a real connection? instead of the hospital where Nightingale founded the first nurse training school in the world?
To Sir Nicholas Houghton, Chief of the Defence Staff, and
Sir Nicholas Carter, Chief of the General Staff, September 2015
Lord Soley, as chair of the Mary Seacole Memorial Fund Appeal, has announced that he has approached the army, not specifying at what level, regarding a memorial garden to be identified with Mary Seacole, with seats named in honour of nurses killed in conflict zones. Since there is a plan to have a Seacole statue in the garden of St Thomas’ Hospital, perhaps the intention is to expand that site–currently an eyesore–for the purpose. Or perhaps he has asked the Army to find a site. Could you clarify if any inquiries are in progress?
You may or not be aware of the close connection of St Thomas’ Hospital with Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), who headed the first team of British women to nurse in war. The nursing school she founded at St Thomas’, the first in the world, and which trained army nurses as well as civilian, was paid for by a fund raised in her honour, largely by the army, late in the Crimean War. That site remained the headquarters of nursing for more than a century, sending out trained nurses to introduce professional standards in hospitals throughout Britain and the world.
Mary Seacole was a businesswoman who ran, in effect, an officers’ club 1855-56. It was not a hospital or clinic, and she did not nurse the sick and wounded on the battlefield, as is so often claimed. She visited the local Land Transport Corps Hospital, near her business, to distribute magazines at it and send the occasional treat. This voluntary work was much appreciated, but to confuse it with the founding of the modern profession of nursing is nonsense.
Mrs Seacole sometimes called a “battlefield nurse,” when her forays onto the battlefield happened on three occasions, post-battle, after selling sandwiches and wine to spectators. She missed the first three, major, battles of the war as she was busy in London attending to her gold-mining investments (she had previously been in Panama with a business for men heading for the California Gold Rush). This is perfectly clear in her memoir, but her campaigners instead claim that she rushed to London to volunteer as a nurse!
We would be happy to furnish further details if any consideration is to be given to this memorial garden proposal. A website is available: www.maryseacole.info/
There is much to be said for the idea of a memorial garden for nurses, but it should be linked to real nurses who did give their lives to nurse in war.
(signed by 15 members of the Nightingale Society)
To George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Rt Hon George Osborne, PC, MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
November 30, 2015Dear Mr OsborneThe massive grant to the Mary Seacole statue is misplaced in three important respects: (1) Seacole was not a nurse, let alone a “Pioneer Nurse,” nor ever claimed to be one (in her book, “nurses” are Nightingale and her nurses); (2) the place is wrong, as St Thomas’ Hospital was for more than a century the home of the Nightingale School of Nursing, the first professional training school in the world, from which pioneers went out to bring the standards of the new profession to other countries. (3) It was Nightingale, not Seacole, who prepared briefs for committees, wrote and met with MPs and Cabinet ministers to press for reforms in nursing and health care.The process was flawed from the beginning. The Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust promised consultation on the statue, then made its decision without any (or consultation with an expert), behind closed doors. The high-circulation journal of the Royal College of Nursing, the Nursing Standard
, does not permit articles critical of claims made by the campaign.
Mrs Seacole was an admirable, generous businesswoman, who deserves celebration. She should not, however, be credited with the work of another person. You should insist on a different site for the statue. Mrs Wendy Mathews, a Lambeth resident and former governor at St Thomas’ made a proposal at the Lambeth planning committee meetings.
How well she represents “black Britons” will likely be seriously challenged in coming years. She was three quarters white and proud of her Scots heritage; she had a white husband, white business partner and white clientele. She called herself a “yellow doctress,” not a “black nurse.” She employed blacks: two cooks, her porter and maid.
The Memorial Garden is a fine idea. However, it should not be associated with Seacole, who ran a business for officers, for profit, during the Crimean War, not a hospital for British soldiers, as is often incorrectly claimed. Did she put herself in “harm’s way”? According to her memoir, she went onto the battlefield three times during the war (she missed the first three battles as she was busy in London attending to her gold investments). The dates are in her book, as are the details of her sales of wine and sandwiches to spectators. Her forays onto the battlefield were post-battle, as noted by the Times correspondent, who was also on the battlefield, post-battle, to write up his stories.
Mrs Seacole was an honourable person who does not deserve to made a laughing stock. The statue as currently conceived will become known as a “History Hoax,” site for the giving out of History Hoax awards.
[14 members of the Nightingale Society]
To David Cameron, Prime Minister
Rt Hon David Cameron, PC, MP
January 1, 2016
Dear Mr Cameron
The Nightingale Society has written the Chancellor of the Exchequer with concerns about the grant of £240,000 announced for the erection of a Mary Seacole statue at St Thomas’ Hospital, home of the Nightingale School for more than a century. We have received no reply.We do not object at all to Seacole’s life being celebrated, but rather the poor choice of place and misrepresentation of her as a pioneer nurse. She was an enterprising and kind businesswoman, who ran a much appreciated club for officers. Champagne, fine wines and catering for their dinner parties should not be confused with nursing care and improved nutrition for ordinary soldiers, Florence Nightingale’s work.
The Nightingale School of Nursing, founded in 1860, was the first professional training school in the world. From it nursing pioneers went out to take the standards of the new profession to other parts of the U.K. and around the world. The bicentenary of Nightingale’s birth will be celebrated in 2020.
The statue should not face the Houses of Parliament, for it was Nightingale, not Seacole, who wrote briefs for committees, and pressed MPs and Cabinet ministers for reforms in nursing, hospitals and health care.
Your government’s grant is to make up the shortfall from faulty planning and budgeting. The grant should be made conditional on the statue being located in an appropriate place. One proposal is Forum Magnum Square, by County Hall.
Be aware that Mrs Seacole’s portrayal as a “black Briton” will likely be challenged in coming years. She was three quarters white and proud of her Scots heritage; she had a white husband, white business partner and white clientele. She called herself a “yellow doctress,” not a “black nurse.” She employed blacks: two cooks, her porter and maid.
The Memorial Garden proposed to honour nurses who died on duty is a fine idea. However, it should not be associated with Seacole, who went onto the battlefield three times during the war (she missed the first three battles as she was busy in London on her gold investments). Those forays were all post-battle, as noted by the Times correspondent, himself out there to write up his stories.
The statue if erected at St Thomas’ risks becoming the site for making “History Hoax” awards. Do your ministers want to lead the list?
[16 members of the Nightingale Society]
Please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A press release is available on this site.
To David Cameron, 7 April 2016
Rt Hon David Cameron, PC, MP
April 7, 2016
Dear Mr Cameron
We write with concern about the use of public money, the £240,000 promised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for the Mary Seacole statue. We do not object at all to Seacole being celebrated – she deserves it – but for the false description of her as a “Pioneer Nurse” and its placement at St Thomas’ Hospital, site for more than a century of Florence Nightingale’s first training school for nurses in the world.
Mrs Seacole was an enterprising and kind businesswoman, who ran, in effect, a (for-profit) club for officers. Champagne, fine wines and catering for their dinner parties should not be confused with nursing care and improved nutrition for ordinary soldiers, Florence Nightingale’s work.
Another problem, a Seacole statue should not face the Houses of Parliament, for it was Nightingale who wrote briefs for committees, and pressed MPs and Cabinet ministers for reforms in nursing, hospitals and health care.
We strongly urge you to make the grant contingent on a more appropriate site being used for the Seacole statue. We have recommended Forum Magnum Square, by the County Hall, and there are several other possibilities.
If erected at St Thomas’ Hospital, the site risks becoming a target for ridicule, as a “History Hoax.” Do your ministers want to lead the list? The timing is inordinately embarrassing, for the bicentenary of Nightingale’s birth will be celebrated in 2020, presumably not at her hospital. This would be a shame in the eyes of millions who know, value and respect her achievements.
[18 members of the Nightingale Society]
Please reply to email@example.com.
A press release is available on this site.
To David Cameron, 8 May 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron, PC, MP
May 8, 2016
Dear Mr Cameron
We write with concern about the use of a £240,000 grant for a Mary Seacole statue at St Thomas’ Hospital. We do not object to Seacole being celebrated, but for the false description of her as a “Pioneer Nurse” and location of the statue at the hospital where Nightingale pioneered nurse training and professional nursing for the whole world.
Mrs Seacole was an enterprising and kind businesswoman, who ran a (for-profit) club for officers. Champagne, fine wines and catering for their dinner parties should not be confused with nursing care and improved nutrition for ordinary soldiers, Nightingale’s work.
Further, a Seacole statue should not face the Houses of Parliament, for it was Nightingale who wrote briefs and pressed MPs and Cabinet ministers for reforms in nursing, hospitals and health care.
We urge you to make the grant contingent on the use of an appropriate site for the Seacole statue, such as Forum Magnum Square, by the County Hall.
Copy: Caroline, Nokes, MP, Romsey and Southampton North
(also signed by numerous persons attending a Nightingale Memorial)
To Baroness Amos, Baroness Benjamin, and Baroness Scotland
Dear Baronesses Amos, Benjamin and Scotland
We ask, how could three smart baronesses get it so wrong? We refer to your remarks made regarding the unveiling of the Mary Seacole statue at St Thomas’ Hospital. They repeat, uncritically, the usual propaganda of the Seacole campaign.
1. The “pioneer nurse” claim, but no one, from the Dept of Health through the RCN will say what she pioneered or where and when she nursed. During the Crimean War, she gave out Punch magazine to patients at the Land Transport Hospital near her business. She gave them a plum pudding and mince pies on New Year’s Day 1856. This is hardly nursing! Seacole added lead and mercury to her cholera “remedies” and used emetics and purging for bowel patients, which dehydrate, when rehydration is needed.
2. Contrary to the ITV news report, which had interviews with Baronesses Benjamin and Scotland, Seacole made no “towering contribution” to public life. She was kind and generous and she left an excellent memoir. Baroness Scotland is out of line by equating the contributions of the two “great women,” one white and one black. Yes, the contributions of black people should be acknowledged and celebrated, Mrs Seacole was a businesswoman who never nursed at all! She sold fine wines and meals to officers, while Nightingale nursed and got the filthy hospitals cleaned up, laundries and kitchens established for the benefit of British soldiers.
3. We entirely share Baroness Benjamin’s view that blacks should be celebrated for their contribution. The Nightingale Society has proposed a genuine black pioneer nurse, Mrs K.A. Pratt, to the Dept of Health to be honoured. We do not oppose honouring blacks, but oppose the use of misinformation, so blatant in the case of Mrs Seacole. Lynn McDonald’s Mary Seacole: The Making of the Myth, 2014, gives bios of six minority nurses who deserve to be honoured, all with excellent credentials.
4. The remark that we should stop being NIMBYs badly misses the point. St Thomas’ Hospital was for more than a century the home of the Nightingale School, the first nursing school in the world, important for establishing the profession in many countries. To have a statue at it honouring Mrs Seacole, albeit a decent woman, who gave out magazines and treats at a hospital, but who never nursed at one at all, is very wrong.
We would be happy to debate you on these points. We would provide you with a briefing. We think you owe the public retractions for your remarks. Plenty of information on the propaganda campaign is available. See www.maryseacole.info.
[signed by 14 members of the Nightingale Society]
to Members of Parliament, August 2016
August 7, 2016
It is probably no coincidence that the unveiling of the Mary Seacole statue at St Thomas’ Hospital, June 30, was set to coincide with major attention to Brexit. The unveiling was also the occasion on the awarding of the first History Hoax award, to the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, for promoting Mary Seacole as a founder of nursing and a “Hero of Healthcare.” The nominator wrote:
In erroneously omitting Florence Nightingale from her role as founder of nursing, public health visionary and pioneer in statistical analysis to improving public health and save lives, the programme instead honoured Mary Seacole for nursing, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson for women in medicine, Edward Jenner for medicine, and Nye Bevan for the Healthcare system. All deserve credit for their contribution, but not to the exclusion of Florence Nightingale, whose quality and quantity of health impacts were far greater.
Runner-up in the History Hoax awards is Sir Hugh Taylor, chair of the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, for justifying the statue site at what was the Nightingale School of Nursing, and issuing a fallacious “research” statement making Seacole a “heroine who gave her life’s work in support” of the early development of nursing (20 July 2011). Yet he can’t give one example of any nursing by Seacole whatsoever.
The announcement of the unveiling resulted in yet another false achievement for Seacole, that she was “mentioned in dispatches,” an honour reserved for gallantry in battle. Her 3 battlefield excursions (she missed the major ones) took place post-battle, after selling wine and sandwiches to spectators. Mrs Seacole was a kind and generous businesswoman, but did not frequent battlefields “under fire” or pioneer nursing.
The Nightingale Society supports honouring her for her own life, but will continue to protest the re-writing of history to give her credit for Nightingale’s work.
[signed by 14 members of the Nightingale Society]
Other letters from Nightingale Society supporters
From Dr Ron Trubuhovich, ONZM to Sir Ron Kerr
Sir Ronald KERR C.B.E., Chief Executive
Dr Ian Gibbs, Medical Director
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS
Concerning the proposed statue of Mary Seacole.
Would you kindly allow me to present to you my personal objection to the proposed siting at St Thomas’ Hospital of a statue of Mary Seacole, this admired heroine of the Crimean War. It does not incorporate any belittling of the statue’s inspirational subject, nor is it an objection to the statue itself. May I mention I am well familiar with the controversy and the numerous for-and-against writings over this issue. I trust you will not disallow me from lodging yet another individual protest with you. And I can state that I have read every word of Mary Seacole’s book.
Mary Seacole’s record has inspired her supporters with great enthusiasm to seek formal recognition of her achievements, so it is their wish to honour her by the proposed statue. However, the statue’s proposed great size and height have dimensions eclipsing those of the Florence Nightingale statue already at the Hospital. And of course, it was at St Thomas’ very hospital that Florence Nightingale founded her training school for nurses, the first for the new profession she pioneered. Further, Mary Seacole had no direct link with your institution. Thus it is inappropriate for the statue to be erected within the grounds of St Thomas’. (Also, it can be noted, the location of Mary’s statue in the hospital grounds would be directly facing the Parliament buildings across the Thames River).
My expectation is that it is likely you could be unaware of the high level of veneration for the reputation of Florence Nightingale which is held today, here in New Zealand, among members of the nursing and medical professions. We are saddened that the cause for Mary Seacole has encouraged some of the statue’s ardent supporters into demeaning Florence’s reputation by denigration, in the naïve anticipation of that strengthening the Seacole credentials, thereby to further the chances of her statue being placed at St Thomas’. Such tactics are deeply upsetting to Florence Nightingale admirers, who appreciate her tremendous influence for numerous outstanding healthcare reforms.
Surely, if the Mary Seacole statue needs to be in London then a suitable site can be located outside St Thomas’ Hospital.
Ronald V Trubuhovich [Dr], ONZM
Honorary Intensive Care Specialist
Dept of Critical Care Medicine (Chairman, 1983-94)
Auckland City Hospital
Pvt Bag 92-024 Auckland
New Zealand, 1142
From Dr Ron Trubuhovich, ONZM to George Osborne
To: The Rt Hon George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ.From: Ron Trubuhovich
7 Bingley Av,
Epsom, Auckland, New Zealand, 1023.Dear ChancellorAs a citizen of a country of which Queen Elizabeth is Head of State may I ask you, thereby, would you kindly allow me the liberty of writing to you? My own background has been a professional life as an intensive care specialist, I am long in retirement, with my major activity now in writing medical history. Within the time of my history studies the outstanding lesson I have learnt is how absolutely essential it is to base the conclusions one makes solely on securing genuine confirmatory evidence. Such evidence comes from and is substantiated by primary sources, instead of being repetitive of what others say or have written if it is without reference to primary sources (or if based on hearsay). This principle has relevance in what I want to comment to you about: the commitment your government has made to fund the financial shortfall needed for installation of a statue of Mary Seacole at St Thomas’ Hospital.
I applaud the noble intention for equitable recognition for the role of ‘coloured’ pioneers among nursing (and medical) personnel. As you would be well aware Mary Seacole has been advanced for such a role as a ‘black’ pioneer for nursing in Britain – as well as in her home island. The exaggerated claims made by partisan enthusiasts to reinforce such an image do not contain credence on the basis of available evidence – however worthy a person she truly was, in herself. Support of my contention lies in the effective debunking of ten current myths about Mrs Seacole, lucidly and concisely set out from primary sources in Prof Lynn McDonald’s book ‘Mary Seacole The Making of the Myth’. It was published last year and is readily available in paperback, I will ask The Book Depository to forward your office a copy, presuming you would allow me that privilege.
May I then respectfully make this suggestion to you? I would ask you to have a member of your staff who is appropriately authoritative in history to read the book then report back to you on her/his assessment. (I can of course appreciate how limited is the time the busy Chancellor of the Exchequer can have available). My expectation is for him/her to conclude that wherever in London there is a suitable site for a statue of Mary Seacole to be installed, it is not in the grounds of the hospital of the true pioneer of British nursing, i.e., Florence Nightingale, a lady much revered in my country too. It would take political courage to require that a statue, which your government is assisting with financially, be located where it is appropriate elsewhere as a condition of your continuing support by funding. I would expect that armed with the true facts of this issue, you would not hesitate to face up to that issue in its own right.
With my kind regards
Ron Trubuhovich (Dr), OMNZ.
1st Dec. 2015
From The Rev’d Paul Hawkins to David Cameron, 16 January 2016
To: The Prime Minister,
10 Downing Street,
From: The Nightingale Society
c/o The Rev’d Paul Hawkins
9 Buckingham Place
Bristol BS8 1LJ
16th January 2016
Dear Prime Minister,
Further to the letter from the Nightingale Society urging you to make the grant of £240,000 for the statue of Mary Seacole to be contingent on its placement at a different site, one of our members has suggested two further possible suitable venues: Windrush Square, Brixton, or outside Mary Seacole House, Clapham High Street.
But we claim no expertise on what would be the best site, simply that St Thomas’ Hospital, as the home of the Nightingale School and base for her founding the modern profession throughout the world, would therefore not be the appropriate site for the Mary Seacole statue.