The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s death. Florence was born on May 12th, 1820 in Tuscany, Italy and named after the city of her birth. She came from an upper-class background, but soon found out riches and a comfortable life were not her calling. Instead, from an early age on, she had a firm conviction that God called her to serve the needy and especially to nurse the sick. This was by no means the path for an affluent young English woman, so that Florence had to face stiff opposition from her family, including her mother.
But Florence stuck to her convictions and began educating herself in the science of nursing, a key experience being the training received in Germany under pastor Theodor Fliedner and his deaconesses at the Institution at Kaiserswerth on the Rhine. Following a brief experience in London, Florence was sent to the Ottoman Empire where she became prominent tending wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. There she was dubbed “The Lady with the Lamp” for visiting wounded soldiers by night even after the medical staff had gone.
As a matter of fact many more soldiers died from infectious diseases rather than from battle wounds. After Florence came back to London she got the conviction that most of the deaths in the Crimea were due to poor sanitary living conditions and neglected hygiene. This in turn influenced her decisions during the later establishment of a nursing school at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, the first of its kind with a non-religious background. Her “Notes on Nursing” was the leading nursing guide of her time and Florence is nowadays credited with starting professional nursing.
Florence Nghtingale’s legacy has already been remembered on numerous occasions, in literature and films, on stamps and banknotes, among others. On the occasion of the centenary anniversary of her passing away, as well as the 150th anniversary of the first publication of her widely influential work “Notes on Nurses”, the Royal Mint has struck a special £ 2 silver coin to honour Florence’s life of service. The special edition is available directly from the Royal Mint’s website at a very reasonable price. In these uncertain financial times, is there a better investment than precious metalls? The beautifully bi-coloured and handsomely presented coin makes for a special Christmas gift. And if Florence’s humble spirit and willingness to serve are remembered, that will be a lasting investment for sure.
(picture courtesy of Wikipedia)