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Abbey holds 50th Annual Service to Commemorate the Life of Florence Nightingale

Thursday, 7th May 2015

Abbey holds 50th Annual Service to Commemorate the Life of Florence Nightingale

A Service to Commemorate the Life of Florence Nightingale was held at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday 6th May 2015.

The service is held annually to celebrate nursing and midwifery and all staff, both qualified and unqualified, working in these services. This year is the 50th anniversary of the annual commemoration being held at the Abbey.

The service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who said in his Bidding: 

Welcome to Westminster Abbey, which has seen so many occasions of joy and sorrow and remembrance. We come into the presence of almighty God to offer our worship, praise, and thanksgiving. In particular, we thank God for Florence Nightingale: for her enterprise and heroism, and for the example she has left us.
We pray that her ideals of compassion, quality of care, and training may continueto inspire and sustain nurses everywhere. We praise God for all those nurses who, like her, have carried the lamp of healing into the dark places of our world.
Let us prepare to hear and receive God's holy word and to bring before God the needs of our world. Let us remember with pride the vocation we have each received, and prepare to dedicate ourselves anew to the service of all in need.

The Address was given by Professor Michael Wheeler, Visiting Professor at the Universities of Lancaster, Roehampton and Southampton.

Charlotte McArdle, Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Ireland, read Proverbs 8: 1-11 and Sir Robert Francis QC, Patron of the Florence Nightingale Foundation read St Luke 7: 1-10.

Prayers were led by the Reverend Christopher Stoltz, Minor Canon of Westminster and Sacrist, and said by Professor Elizabeth Robb, Chief Executive, the Florence Nightingale Foundation; Professor Viv Bennett, Director of Nursing, Public Health England and Department of Health; Colonel David Bates ARRC QHN L/QARANC, Director Army Nursing Services and Matron-in-Chief (Army); and the Venerable Andrew Tremlett, Canon in Residence.

The service included the Procession of the Roll of Honour, borne in silence, which was carried by Sergeant Alexandra Middleton, Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service escorted by the three Matrons-in-Chief of Her Majesty's Armed Forces.

The Florence Nightingale Lamp was carried through the Abbey by Sam Foster, and escorted by student nurses from Bangor University, Cardiff University, Swansea University and the University of South Wales.

The service was sung by the Westminster Abbey Special Service Choir, conducted by the Organist and Master of the Choristers, James O'Donnell. The organ was played by Daniel Cook, Sub-Organist.

In May 2010 a Chapel in the Abbey's North Ambulatory, which since 1532 has been the chantry chapel for Abbot John Islip and since the Second World War has been dedicated to the Nurses and Midwives of the Commonwealth who gave their lives in that war, was dedicated in honour of Florence Nightingale and thus of all nurses and those in allied professions.

Read The Order of Service

The biggest challenge we face is maintaining such a large physical collection of material within a historic building – believe it or not, there’s just not enough space for it all.

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Matthew - Keeper of the Muniments

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