It was meant to be a really big celebration this year.
International Nurses Day is held to mark mark the contributions nurses make to society. And in 2020 it coincides with the the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife and the 200th year of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
Nightingale came to prominence after arriving at the Crimean War in 1854 to manage and train nurses in caring for wounded soldiers. Her social reforms included improving healthcare for all sections of British society.
My second sister was a nurse and midwife. She was the kindest, the most caring and the best of her four siblings, a statement with which they would all readily agree. She worked as a carer all her life, at home and abroad, before she died suddenly four years ago at the age of 67.
She would help anyone, was always for the underdog and thought the best of everyone, sometimes infuriatingly so. Her kindness was a shining beacon to me growing up.
Nurses are special people.
This year, International Nurses Day falls on a moment in history when we are in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. Our nurses and carers are at the forefront of a global pandemic. They are risking their lives as the nation’s foot soldiers, fighting an invisible enemy with a woeful lack of personal protection equipment.
Nursing staff don’t want to be thought of as heroes in this crisis. They say they are just doing their jobs. But they have true dedication and commitment many of us lack. We continue to say thank you – but the Thursday Clap for Carers won’t mean a thing if we don’t carry it forward into something positive for the NHS.
Today at one o’clock, I played three songs for The Sound of Music Through The Square Window to mark International Nurses Day. We had Bobby Darin’s version of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, Queen and David Bowie’s Under Pressure and The Rembrandt’s I’ll Be There For You, which will be forever known as the theme tune to the television programme Friends.
So on this day in 2020, and on the Thursday Clap for Carers, we salute our nurses, without whom many of us would not exist. And in future, we need to ensure that these vital front line workers are given the support, pay and respect they deserve from our politicians, along with the NHS, which was one of the major social reforms following the Second World War.
When all this is over, it would be fitting if, as a lasting legacy of the coronavirus catastrophe, we could recommit that support to our NHS and all who work within it.
That’s about it.
Love Maddie x