Rare Florence Nightingale letter to go on show at Cromer Hospital

A letter written by Florence Nightingale will be on show at Cromer Hospital. Left to right, hospital ad ministrator Sue Hayward, medical secretary and translator of the letter Louise Osborne and matron Anita Martins.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY A letter written by Florence Nightingale will be on show at Cromer Hospital. Left to right, hospital ad ministrator Sue Hayward, medical secretary and translator of the letter Louise Osborne and matron Anita Martins. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Monday, May 12, 2014
10:13 AM

It is a rare gem which has lain in a closed box cabinet for years but is now set to go on display to the public for the first time.

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Florence Nightingale: An influential nurse

■She was born in Florence, Italy on May 12 1820 into a wealthy family. The family moved back to England in 1821.

■One of the things she is most well known for is serving as nurse during the Crimean War, helping to tend to wounded soldiers.

■She was known as ‘The Lady with the Lamp’ after making her rounds at night carrying a lantern.

■In 1860 she established her own nursing school, St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

■In 1883 she was awarded the Royal Red Cross by Queen Victoria in recognition of all her hard works as a military nurse.

Cromer Hospital will be unveiling a letter written by the founder of modern nursing Florence Nightingale, in 1857, as part of the celebrations for International Midwives Day and International Nurses Day which take place on May 5 and May 12 respectively.

Sandra Meaden, a former nurse and key driving force in the redevelopment of Cromer Hospital, will officially unveil the letter to the public today, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, at 1pm.

The letter, which has been translated into modern English by two of the hospital’s medical secretaries, Heather Pym and Louise Osborne , is a plea from Florence Nightingale to have a “poor simpleton” named Lewis Burton admitted to the Colchester Sanctuary.

Helen Lloyd, operational manager from Cromer Hospital said they were delighted to be able to display a bit of Cromer Hospital history, but as yet no one knows the exact story of how the letter came into the hospital’s possession. She said she had been at the hospital for around eight years and in that time she had always known the letter to be within a closed box cabinet on the wall of a board room in the hospital.

EMBARGOED UNTIL 0001 SATURDAY 15 APRIL 2000
Undated library file picture of nurse Florence Nightingale, whose diary written 150 years ago, went on display Friday 14 April 2000 after being donated to the National Trust by a mystery benefactor. The leather-bound book was sent anonymously in a plain brown envelope to Claydon House, Buckinghamshire, where the world-famous nurse once lived. The intriguing diary charts her extraordinary eight-month journey across France, Egypt, Greece, Italy and Austria and ends in Berlin in 1850 when the so-called ÒLady with the LampÓ was aged 30. See PA story HISTORY Florence. PA photo.EMBARGOED UNTIL 0001 SATURDAY 15 APRIL 2000 Undated library file picture of nurse Florence Nightingale, whose diary written 150 years ago, went on display Friday 14 April 2000 after being donated to the National Trust by a mystery benefactor. The leather-bound book was sent anonymously in a plain brown envelope to Claydon House, Buckinghamshire, where the world-famous nurse once lived. The intriguing diary charts her extraordinary eight-month journey across France, Egypt, Greece, Italy and Austria and ends in Berlin in 1850 when the so-called ÒLady with the LampÓ was aged 30. See PA story HISTORY Florence. PA photo.

The decision was taken to have the letter displayed for everyone to see - on the wall of the out-patients waiting area at the hospital.

Ms Lloyd said: “What we have been very keen to do is to preserve the letter and have it up on display where everyone can see it.”

Sue Hayward, hospital administration manager, added: “In the boardroom it was never really seen so it will be nice for people to be able to view it.”

The question now is if there is anyone out there who might be able to shed new light on how the letter came to be at Cromer Hospital.

A letter written by Florence Nightingale will be on show at Cromer Hospital. 
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYA letter written by Florence Nightingale will be on show at Cromer Hospital. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Anyone who can help trace the background of the Florence Nightingale letter can contact Emma Jarvis on hospital arts project co-ordinator, Emma Jarvis via emma.jarvis@nnuh.nhs.uk or on 01603 287870.

Do you have an interesting health story? Email tracey.gray@archant.co.uk

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