What's in a Portrait: Promoting the Nursing Profession

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If you visit the Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) offices near London Bridge you might spot a portrait of a second-year student nurse, complete with the white belt and cap that was part of the uniform at that time, hanging on one of our walls.

But who is this nurse and what is her connection to FNF?

The nurse is Elizabeth (Liz) Bardolph and she is the current Master of the Worshipful Company of Nurses, which exists to support nurses past, present and future, and which is also a supporter of FNF’s prestigious Scholarship programme.

We were fortunate enough to gather together Liz Bardolph, Fran Davies – one of the founders of the Company of Nurses and now a Past Master – and two of the four* FNF Scholars that the Company of Nurses have supported in recent years: Robert Waterson, Dean of Health, Sport and Bioscience at University of East London, and Jason Flannigan-Salmon, Senior National Programme Manager at NHS England. As well as FNF’s own Chief Executive Officer, Greta Westwood.

(From left to right, Jason Flannigan-Salmon, Fran Davies, Liz Bardolph, Greta Westwood, Rob Waterson)

Find out more about the portrait, the Company of Nurses and their vision, aligned with that of FNF, to support nurses and promote the profession.

Molly Broome, a photographer and artist, painted the portrait of Liz Bardolph in the mid-1960s. She lived near the Bardolph family and was interested in painting her, as a student at the Nightingale Training School at St Thomas’s Hospital.

After qualifying, and also training as a midwife, Liz returned to the south of England where she progressed from staff nurse to ward sister helping to establish the Coronary Care Unit at St Richard’s hospital in Chichester.  London beckoned again and she was appointed Ward Sister at Kings College Hospital.  This was followed by four years as Directorate Nurse Manager at Lewisham Hospital.

In 1987 she was invited to run research programmes at the Royal Naval Hospital, Haslar.  Liz also worked at IBM where she managed and invigorated the cardiovascular risk assessment programme.  She was recognised for this work in health education and made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health (FRSPH). 

Her interest in the history of medicine prompted Liz to undertake the Diploma in the History of Medicine run by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries. Drawing on her Nightingale training and research background, her lecture told the history of St Thomas’ through the coat of arms, for which she was awarded the Osler medal.  Her work on scurvy and the Royal Navy was widely acclaimed.

Using her knowledge of industry, management, and healthcare, Liz then set up her own business in Southampton while at the same time working with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to set standards and training in this new nursing specialty.  She helped to establish the first Diploma in Aesthetic Medicine at Greenwich University and was a visiting assessor.  Later she co-founded the British Association of Cosmetic Nurses, serving as its President.  It now has over 1200 members. 

As well as her clinical work Liz was an accredited expert witness and ran a busy medico-legal practice.  She gained the LLM in Medical Law and Ethics in 2015, followed by a Lifetime Achievement Award in Medical Aesthetics that same year.

Liz was installed as Master of the Worshipful Company of Nurses in May last year, shortly before the Company attained Livery status.

What is a Livery Company?

“The livery companies and the City of London have grown up together. Some guilds can trace their origins back to the 12th century, with the earliest charter still in existence being granted to the Weavers’ Company in 1155. Those working in the same craft lived and work near each other, grouping together to regulate competition within their trade and maintain high standards. Today, there are more than 100 liveries, and though trading conditions changed, since their inception, their work is as pertinent as it always has been. Different in size, structure and interests they share the same ethos: supporting trade, education, charity and fellowship, working in the best interests of the communities in which they operate[1].”

In 2014 a group of eight enterprising nurses, the Founders, who had trained at St Bartholomew’s School of Nursing, developed an idea to start a City Livery Company for nurses. They saw first-hand the value and contribution that Livery Companies offer and felt that nurses should be included amongst the professions who are represented in the Livery world. They saw it as an opportunity to promote the nursing profession and to leave a lasting legacy to nursing that will live well beyond their careers and life- times.

Two years later in 2016 The Guild of Nurses came in to being. In 2017 the Company of Nurses Charitable Trust was established and began to award scholarships; recognising excellence and innovation by nurses; working with other organisations, like FNF, who share the same aims; and providing benevolence to nurses and former nurses in need.

In 2020, the Bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday, The Guild was recognised as a Company without Livery. The Court of Aldermen of the City of London then considered the Petition submitted by the Court of the Company of Nurses on 15 May 2023 and approved the Company’s recognition as the Worshipful Company of Nurses.  The Company joins the other 110 Livery Companies, the oldest of which dates back to the 12th century and takes its place as number 111 in order of precedence.

Supporting Nurses

Fran Davies, Past Master and one of the eight founders, expressed her thanks to FNF: Thank you for inviting us to the FNF HQ to celebrate the portrait of the Master painted when she was a second year student nurse at St Thomas’s Hospital. It was a pleasure to meet you all and a lovely opportunity to meet Rob and Jason, our last two scholars.  The FNF scholarship is a prestigious and very beneficial programme and the Charitable Trust of the Worshipful Company of Nurses are delighted to support this work through sponsorship of a scholar. We look forward to our continued association with you over the coming years.”

Florence Nightingale Foundation’s Leadership Scholarships are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop nurses or midwives careers whilst improving clinical and health outcomes. Scholarships are funded by a number of different organisations and charities and FNF Scholars follow an in-depth personal development plan with experiential learning and individual assessments throughout.  Find out more here.

Rob Waterson, FNF Scholar 2022- 2023 said: The scholarship really gave me the opportunity to build my confidence. When I have to do presentations I can still hear the voice from the RADA programme guiding me in the back of my head. It really helped me talk to the media and gave me confidence with public speaking.”

Jason Flannigan-Salmon, current FNF Scholar 2023- 2024 has just recently been appointed as a Registrant Panel Member of the Fitness to Practice Committee  at the NMC. He said: I wouldn’t have applied for this post  but for FNF and the scholarship. It gives you time to  reflect and has helped to build my confidence whilst encouraging me to network with fellow senior nurse leaders.”

FNF is now delighted to be able to show this portrait, which was once on display in the Florence Nightingale Museum, in its office. And we are delighted also to continue to build a relationship both with Liz Bardolph as the subject of the portrait and the organisation she is now Master of.

[1] Livery companies – City of London

* The other two FNF Scholars supported by the Company of Nurses are Karen Hill and Lisa Abbott.