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FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE'S 200th BIRTHDAY

On 12th May 2020, the world should be celebrating Florence Nightingale's 200th birthday. The coronavirus crisis has resulted in events being cancelled but the team behind a new play are determined to give people the opportunity to celebrate one of the most remarkable people in history.

“FLORENCE : SCENES FROM A LIFE” has been adapted by George Gunby from his play Kissing Miss Nightingale's Shadow. It features Ellie Ward as Florence Nightingale with music written and performed by Mat Williams and John Tams.

“We had performances scheduled throughout Florence's birthday week,” said George Gunby, the Writer / Producer of Kissing Miss Nightingale's Shadow. “When they were cancelled we decided to record a version of the play, FLORENCE : SCENES FROM A LIFE, to put online. It's our gesture towards remembering a remarkable human being. Bearing in mind the opening of Nightingale hospitals during the current pandemic, it is appropriate that we remember Florence.”

Florence Nightingale was born in Florence on 12 May 1820. She was a statistician a social reformer and the driving force behind modern nursing. Nightingale was put in charge of nursing British and allied soldiers in Turkey during the Crimean War. She spent many hours in the wards, and her night rounds, giving personal care to the wounded, established her image as the “Lady with the Lamp.” When Florence returned from the Crimea, she was suffering from 'Crimean fever' – brucellosis – which confined her to bed for lengthy periods during the rest of her life.

However, the illness did not stop her efforts to formalise nursing education. To Florence, work was all important and it led her to establish the first scientifically based nursing school—the Nightingale School of Nursing, at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London (opened 1860). She was instrumental in setting up training for midwives and nurses in workhouse infirmaries.

The fact that Florence Nightingale was a woman in a very masculine world makes her achievements all the more remarkable.

Following her return from the Crimea, it is arguable that Florence Nightingale was the most famous woman in the world. Her name was celebrated in song, through newspaper and magazine reports and by the returning soldiers who shouted her name from the rooftops.

However, Florence avoided publicity, preferring a quiet life at home where she could work uninterrupted. Florence was the first woman awarded the Order of Merit (1907) and International Nurses Day, observed annually on May 12, commemorates her birth and celebrates the important role of nurses in health care.

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