Florence Nightingale remembered at annual service

Thursday, 12th May 2022

Rolls of Honour in front of a lamp that has a flame at the spout

HRH Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy, attended a Service to commemorate the life of Florence Nightingale at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday 11th May.

The service is held annually to celebrate nursing and midwifery and all staff, both qualified and unqualified, and the importance of supporting one another through challenging times.

'Commitment, compassion and excellence’

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

‘Today, before God, we gather to offer our praise and thanksgiving, and to recall the life and witness of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. Celebrating the work of the Florence Nightingale Foundation and in the good company of working nursing professionals, we acknowledge the legacy of commitment, compassion, and excellence we inherit.
We pray that Florence Nightingale’s determination to improve the quality of care, and secure better training may shape the gift we leave to those who follow us. We praise God for all those nurses who, like her, have carried the lamp of healing into the dark places of our world.’

The Address and readings

The Rt Reverend and Rt Hon the Lord Sentamu of Lindisfarne and Masooli gave the Address.

Professor Greta Westwood, Chief Executive Officer of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, gave some words of reflection. The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, read 1 Corinthians 13: 4–8a; and Dame Yvonne Moores, Chair of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, read John 20: 1–3, 6b–7, 10–18.


Rolls of Honour

The service included the Procession of the British Commonwealth Nurses’ Roll of Honour, which was borne through the Abbey by Corporal Emily Carr, Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service, escorted by the three Matrons-in-Chief of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. The Roll includes the names of nurses who lost their lives during the Second World War, and is kept in the Florence Nightingale Chapel at the Abbey.

For the first time, a new COVID-19 Pandemic Roll of Honour was also borne through the church. The Roll remembers the nurses, midwives, nursing associates and health care support workers who lost their lives during the pandemic. It was carried by the UK’s Chief Nursing Officers:

  • Ruth May (England)
  • Sue Tranka (Wales)
  • Maria McLlgorm (Northern Ireland)

A lamp, symbolic of Florence Nightingale, was also carried through the Abbey by Florence Nightingale Foundation Scholar Colette Datt, Associate Director of Nursing Children and Young People, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust.

Prayers and music

Prayers were led by the Abbey’s Sacrist, the Reverend Robert Latham, and said by:

  • Sue Tranka, Chief Nursing Officer for Wales
  • Baroness Watkins of Tavistock, Visiting Professor in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care, King’s College London
  • Irina Belun-Vieira, Head of Cancer Care Nursing at King’s College Hospital
  • The Reverend David Stanton, Sub Dean and Canon in Residence

The service was sung by the Westminster Abbey Special Service Choir, conducted by Peter Holder, Sub-Organist. The organ was played by Matthew Jorysz, Assistant Organist, and before the service by Charles Maxtone-Smith, Organ Scholar.

Order of service

Order of service: A Service to commemorate the life of Florence Nightingale (PDF, 630KB)