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