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Statue honouring Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole set to be unveiled
On Thursday 30 June, the statue honouring Mary Seacole will be unveiled in the garden of St Thomas’ Hospital, London, directly opposite the Houses of Parliament.
The date of the unveiling has been confirmed after 12 years of campaigning by the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal to raise the necessary funds for the bronze statue. Over £500,000 was raised through donations from thousands of individual supporters as well as several larger donors.
In November last year Chancellor George Osborne announced that £240,000 of LIBOR banking fines would be donated to the appeal to pay for the installation.
The statue, created by sculptor Martin Jennings, will honour the Jamaican-born nurse who cared for wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War. It will be the first statue in the UK dedicated to a named black woman.
The work features a memorial disc at the back of the statue which will be inscribed with the words, written in 1857 by the Times newspaper's Crimean War Correspondent, Sir William Howard Russell:
'I trust that England will not forget one who nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead.'
Lord Clive Soley, Chair of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal, commented:
“We are very grateful to everyone who has supported the statue, and to the many nurses, schools and army units who donated funds for the appeal. We would also like to thank the Chancellor who made this possible with a donation of £240,000 for the installation of the statue.
“The unveiling will be a truly memorable event, and after 12 years of campaigning, we look forward to finally granting Mary Seacole the acknowledgement she deserves for her selfless support of British soldiers.
“The statue will be a fantastic new landmark on the South Bank providing much needed recognition of the contribution black and ethnic minorities have made throughout British history and a celebration of the UK’s diversity.”
The unveiling will be held in an invitation-only ceremony attended by Trustees, Ambassadors and supporters of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal, where a number of high-profile speakers will address attendees. There will be an opportunity for the general public to view the statue on Thursday June 30th from 2 to 5 pm and on July 1st from 9 to 5pm.
Following the statue unveiling, a new charity, the Mary Seacole Trust, will be established to ensure the legacy of Mary Seacole continues to be embraced throughout educational establishments and communities across the UK.
To read more about the story behind the statue design, please click HERE
25 November 2015 Update:
Seacole statue to be unveiled in the spring after Chancellor announces installation costs will be met from banking fines
Lord Clive Soley says he is `absolutely delighted’ that the Government has announced funding for installation of the Mary Seacole statue, meaning that Britain will finally get its first statue of a named black woman.
The announcement came as part of Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement and spending review. The Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal will receive £240,000 from banking fines `to facilitate a memorial statue to commemorate Mary Jane Seacole; nurse and heroine of the Crimean War’.
Responding to the announcement, Lord Soley, Chair of the Appeal, said: ` I am absolutely delighted with this news. It means that we can now complete the installation next spring.
`It was an uphill struggle to raise funds for the statue itself, but that was achieved through the generosity of individual nurses, soldiers and others. Supporters of the Appeal, including Trustees and Ambassadors, are to be congratulated for the hard work they put in to make sure the statue was completed.
’However, earlier this year we were hit by an unexpected £180,000 bill for installation and had to delay the unveiling. Today’s announcement means that Mary Seacole will finally get the recognition she deserves.’
The 15-foot plus bronze statue of Mary Seacole, who was voted Greatest Black Briton in 2004, will sit in the grounds of the renowned St Thomas’ hospital, opposite the Houses of Parliament, and is set to become a major London landmark.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust has provided use of the site. Sculptor Martin Jennings’ previous works include Sir John Betjeman at St Pancras station in London and a bust of the Queen Mother in St Paul’s Cathedral.
Part of the charity funding will be spent on a memorial garden to commemorate health workers, both civilian and military, who have put themselves in harm’s way in conflict zones or in combating disease, such as the recent Ebola crisis.
No decision has yet been taken about the site of the memorial garden but discussions will be taking place with a number of hospitals, including St Thomas’.
Lord Soley added: `The Army are on board with this and we will be working together to ensure that it is a fitting memorial to military nurses and other healthcare staff.’
October 2015: Mayoral Candidates Back the Appeal
Two leading candidates to be the next Mayor of London have given their backing to the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal. Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan have both pledged to become patron to the appeal if elected by Londoners in May 2016.
Rt Hon Sadiq Khan MP, Labour candidate to be Mayor of London, said: “If I am elected Mayor of London I will be proud to be a Patron of this Appeal. Mary Seacole was an inspirational figure showing compassion combined with an entrepreneurial flair that enabled her to rise above adversity and care for British troops on the battlefields of the Crimea.”
Zac Goldsmith MP, Conservative candidate to be Mayor of London, attended the appeal’s recent meeting held at the House of Lords. Lord Clive Soley, chair of the appeal, confirmed that Zac has pledged his support. Lord Soley said: “We were delighted to welcome Zac Goldsmith MP to a recent fund raising event and he has confirmed that if elected Mayor of London in May 2016 he will continue the tradition of keeping the office as one of the Patrons of the Appeal.”
The election for London Mayor takes place on 5 May 2016. Current Mayor Boris Johnson is standing down and the full list of candidates standing can be found here.
This August Bank Holiday weekend you are invited to participate in the “London to Windsor Cycle Challenge 2015”. The aim is to support the Mary Seacole Memorial Statute Appeal in raising funds for a public memorial of Mary Seacole who nursed sick and wounded British soldiers on the front line during the Crimean war. The cycling group is being organised by Trevor Sterling from Moore Blatch Solicitors.
This fun ride takes place on Saturday 29 August 2015, starting from 9.30am at Richmond Green. You can choose from a number of routes available to cyclists (29 miles, 37 miles and 55 miles), and all routes finish at Alexandra Gardens, Windsor, where entertainment and refreshments will be available. The ride is intended as a family day out and team packs and route maps will be provided to riders on the day. If you would be interested in taking part please contact Julia Bell at email@example.com or 0208 332 8639
We are pleased to announce the appointment of our new Ambassador Leon Mann, BBC and ITV broadcaster and film-maker. Leon said: “Black history was pretty much non existent when I was at school, so I only became aware of Mary Seacole in my late teens. I was staggered that her incredible achievements and contributions to the world were not recognised and celebrated far more across society.” Read more on our Ambassadors page.
Silent Auction raises £17,000
A Silent Auction came to an exciting end on 17 July 205 at an event at the House of Lords hosted by Lord Clive Soley, Chairman of the Appeal. Our thanks to everybody who helped to organise it, sponsors, those who donated items and all who bid generously for them. Over £17,000 was raised.
Black Cultural Archives Event
Our sincere thanks to our Ambassador Joan Saddler OBE for organizing a splendid fundraising event for Ambassadors and Supporters on the 1st February 2015. It was held at the Black Cultural Archives (BCA) and our thanks to everybody who came and/or donated a total of just over £3,000. We are also very grateful to management consultants Essentia and the Royal College of Nursing London Region for their kind sponsorship.
The following 2 photos were taken at the Red Carpet fundraising event for Ambassadors & Supporters at the Black Cultural Archives, 1/2/2015.
MSMSA Ambassador Lisa Rodrigues' article about Mary Seacole
See MSMSA Ambassador Lisa Rodrigues' article about Mary Seacole, which has more pictures of the BCA event, on her website via the link below.
http://lisasaysthis.com/mary-seacole-memorial-statue-appeal (opens in new browser window).
A warm welcome to our 5 new Ambassadors
Actress Josette Simon OBE
Eleanor Smith, theatre nurse and Past President of Unison
Paul Jebb, Experience of Care Professional Lead - NHS England
Joan Pons Laplana, Community Nurse in Derbyshire and NHS Care Maker
Trevor Sterling, Solicitor
Please read their comments via http://www.maryseacoleappeal.org.uk/ambassadors.htm.