So much joy and emotion at this year’s Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service

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Procession of the lamp
The Procession of the Lamp

It has been a week since the 2022 Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service at Westminster Abbey and we are still walking on air. Sharing this most wonderful and poignant occasion with many of the Florence Nightingale Foundation’s scholars, alumni, students, friends and supporters was joyous and deeply affecting. It was thrilling to be in Westminster Abbey with so many of you. Thank you so much to the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle MBE, Dean of Westminster, and the Reverend Robert Latham, Sacrist, for warmly welcoming us to this incredible place of worship.

We were honoured that Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra, in her 65th year as our Royal Patron, joined us at the service. The Right Honourable Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, who delivered a reading, also attended. We thank them for their support.

It was deeply moving to hear our CEO Greta Westwood pay tribute to dedicated nurses and midwives everywhere, and introduce the COVID-19 Pandemic Roll of Honour. We thank our Chair Dame Yvonne Moores for her reading and the Right Reverend and the Right Honourable the Lord Sentamu of Lindisfarne and Masooli for his thought-provoking and personal address.

Lamp and order of service

As is tradition, the British Commonwealth Nurses’ Roll of Honour, which remembers the nurses who lost their lives in the Second World War, was processed in complete silence. Thank you to Corporal Emily Carr of Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service for carrying the Roll. She was supported by the three Matrons-in-Chief of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces: Captain Neale Piper, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Navy Nursing Service, Head of Naval Nursing Service; Colonel Alison Farmer, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corp, Chief Nursing Officer (Army); and Group Captain Diane Lamb, Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service, Defence Professor of Nursing (RAF). They all did an outstanding job.

For the first time, there was a procession of the COVID-19 Pandemic Roll of Honour. This remembers the nurses, midwives, nursing associates and health care support workers who lost their lives during the pandemic. It was processed by Chief Nursing Officers (CNO), Ruth May CNO England, Sue Tranka CNO Wales and Maria McIlgorm CNO Northern Ireland. We are deeply grateful to them for carrying out this solemn duty.

The British Commonwealth Nurses’ Roll of Honour & the Covid-19 Pandemic Roll of Honour

The Procession of the Lamp was extraordinary. It was carried by Florence Nightingale Foundation Scholar Colette Datt, Associate Director of Nursing Children and Young People at North Middlesex UH NHS Trust; she was escorted by Joshua Hamond, Clinical Frailty Practitioner, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, and Leonie Brown, Head of Nursing, Epsom & St Helier NHS Foundation. We were so incredibly proud of them all, as well as the student nurses and midwives from King’s College who supported them.

HRH Princess Alexandra and Irina
HRH Princess Alexandra with Irina Belun-Vieira and her daughter

We are grateful to Freddie’s Flowers for creating a beautiful posy for HRH Princess Alexandra and the exquisite West Gate floral display, and to our new strategic partner Nuffield Health for sponsoring the event.

A wholehearted thank you to the clergy, events and press team at Westminster Abbey; their effort, expertise and support ensured the service was a tremendous success. Finally, may we offer the biggest thanks of all to you, our wonderful, committed and hard-working nursing and midwifery alumni. The Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service is for you.

If you would  like to watch the Commemoration Service in full, it’s available on live stream here

Picture credit Dean and Chapter of Westminster