Daily Express

‘I have a moral and active nature which requires satisfacti­on that I would not find in his life’


Street, and then at a hospital in Middlesex, where her hygiene skills helped to control a cholera epidemic.

In 1854, her reputation was such that the government asked her to alleviate the suffering of sick and wounded soldiers in the Crimean war. She travelled out with a small band of nurses to Scutari, the

British base hospital in Constantin­ople.

Awaiting them was a scene from Hell. Dying men lay next to a cesspit. Rats scuttled under the beds. The food was inedible.

First she had the wards scrubbed from top to bottom, dramatical­ly reducing the number of cholera deaths. She set up a laundry so linen could be kept clean, and a kitchen so her patients could be fed nourishing food. From dawn to dusk she went from bed to bed, pulling many men back from the brink of death. In gratitude, Queen

Victoria gave her an engraved brooch, known as the Nightingal­e Jewel, and £250,000 from the state in 1856, to the immense pride of her parents who welcomed her home with a clearer understand­ing of her calling.

She used the money to create her Nightingal­e Training School for Nursers at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

She remained a champion of equality all her life, once writing: “It does not make a thing good, that it is remarkable that a woman should have been able to do it. Neither does it make a thing bad, which would have been good had a man done it, that it has been done by a woman.”

She went on to write a huge volume on how Army hospitals should operate which changed scientific thinking on medical epidemiolo­gy. However, her own health suffered. While at Scutari she contracted the bacterial infection brucellosi­s, which meant that she was virtually bedbound from the age of 38.

CONFINEMEN­T did not stop her producing another book, Notes On Hospitals, in 1859 which set out how to manage civilian hospitals. She was a prolific health campaigner right up until her death in August 1910 when she passed away at her London home, aged 90.

Florence Nightingal­e was laid to rest in her family’s plot at St. Margaret’s Church, East Wellow, in Hampshire, having changed her profession and the world of medicine for ever. Two hundred years after her birth, her remarkable legacy, and her writings, still burn bright.

As she wrote herself: “Live life when you have it. Life is a splendid gift – there is nothing small about it.”

I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.

Were there none who were discontent­ed with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.

Wise and humane management of the patient is the best safeguard against infection. The world is put back by the death of every one who has to sacrifice the developmen­t of his or her peculiar gifts to convention­ality.

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