Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, the Honourable Lady Ogilvy, attended a Service to Commemorate the Life of Florence Nightingale at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday 7th May 2013 at 6.30pm. The service, which is held annually to celebrate nursing and midwifery and all staff, both qualified and unqualified working in these services, was attended by nurses, midwives and health visitors.

In the year which marks the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, the service also commemorated the work of nurses in the Great War. Chaplains representing all three branches of the Services were robed and in the Sacrarium.

In his Bidding, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said: ‘We come into the presence of almighty God to offer our worship, praise, and thanksgiving. In particular, we thank God for Florence Nightingale: for her enterprise and heroism, and for the example she has left us.

‘We pray that her ideals of compassion, quality of care, and training may continue to inspire and sustain nurses and midwives everywhere. We praise God for all those nurses who, like her, have carried the lamp of healing into the dark places of our world.’

The Address was given by the Dean of Westminster.

Ros Moore, Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland, read Philippians 2: 1-11 and Group Captain Michael Priestley, Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service, Defence Nursing Adviser, read St John 13: 1, 3-7, 12-15.

Prayers were led by The Reverend Dr James Hawkey, Minor Canon and Precentor, and said by: the Reverend Christopher Stoltz, Minor Canon and Sacrist of Westminster; Colonel Lynne Taylor, Chief Nurse, 48 Medical Group, RAF Lakenheath; and the Venerable Dr Jane Hedges, Sub-Dean, Canon Steward and Archdeacon of Westminster.

One prayer, read by Professor Elizabeth Robb, Chief Executive of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, recalled the memory of Edith Cavell, the British nurse who saved the lives of soldiers from both sides of World War One but who was shot by a German firing squad for alleged treason in October 1915.

‘We give thanks for all those who reveal the light of Christ in the dark and violent places of the world; remembering the example of Edith Cavell, and all those who gave their lives in the great wars of the last century, we pray for those whose lives are characterised by self-giving love in situations of great risk and danger.’

During the service the British Commonwealth Nurses’ Roll of Honour was borne in silence from the Chapel of St George through the Nave to the Sacrarium by Staff Sergeant Julia Ann Sessions, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, escorted by the three Matrons-in-chief of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces

The Florence Nightingale Lamp was carried by Gloria Rowland and escorted by student nurses and midwives from the University of the West of England. On arrival in the Sacrarium the Lamp was passed to Lee Marklew, who passed it to Roisin McKeon-Carter, to represent the transmission of knowledge. It was then placed on the High Altar by the Dean.

The service was sung by the Westminster Abbey Special Service Choir conducted by Daniel Cook, Sub-Organist. The organ was played by Peter Holder, Organ Scholar.

See also:

The Order of Service (PDF, 235 KB)

The Address given by the Dean of Westminster 

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