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Florence Nightingale's memory strengthens Derbyshire Spirit

Published: 11 May 2020

We are marking the bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale by honouring nurses and care workers as they continue to work under difficult circumstances to care for people during the coronavirus outbreak.


2020 has been declared the Year of the Nurse and Midwife by the World Health Organisation to mark the bicentenary of Florence, who spent much of her life in Derbyshire.

And following the launch of our #DerbyshireSpirit campaign to recognise the commitment and dedication of key workers across the county, council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis is highlighting the links between the work of Florence, the founder of modern nursing, and the work going on to care for the sick and vulnerable today.

Councillor Lewis said:

“The strength and determination shown by Florence Nightingale in campaigning for better sanitary conditions and reforming healthcare is perhaps one of the earliest examples of the Derbyshire Spirit we see living on today.

“It seems ironic that at a time when we were expecting to encourage visitors to Derbyshire to celebrate the 200th birthday of Florence, her legacy continues with the advent of Nightingale hospitals to support the coronavirus effort and the hard work and commitment of every nurse and care worker who selflessly put themselves at risk to benefit others at a time when we’ve never needed them more.

“It’s fitting that International Nurses Day, observed annually on May 12 to commemorate the birth of Florence and highlight the important role of nurses in health care, is now upon us, and I would like to pay tribute not only to Florence but nurses and care workers across Derbyshire and beyond for their continued efforts to keep us safe at this most difficult and challenging time.”

Florence was born on 12 May 1820 and spent much of her life in the village of Holloway, at Lea Hurst – her family’s summer home.

Despite opposition from her parents, she became a skilled nurse and hospital administrator and made her enduring mark on nursing during the Crimean War by improving the standards of hospital food, cleanliness and supplies and tending to wounded soldiers. It was her night rounds that established her image as the ‘lady with the lamp’.

Florence went on to achieve many reforms in public sanitation and nursing, as well as in healthcare in the British Army. She founded the Nightingale School of Nursing at St Thomas’s Hospital, London and in doing so she raised the art of nursing in the country from menial employment to an honoured vocation.

Anyone interested in finding out more about Florence can look out for a week-long series of blog posts about her life and work from our Derbyshire Record Office starting on 11 May 2020.

Florence: Scenes from a Life, a recorded version of a one-woman play, is also available starring Chesterfield-born actress Ellie Ward, with music written and performed by Derbyshire artists John Tams and Mat Williams.

Further information, images, virtual tours and online exhibitions about Florence’s life are available and at the University of Nottingham’s Florence Comes Home for 2020 project.

Find out more about the modern-day heroes showing #DerbyshireSpirit.