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Representing nursing this Remembrance Day

Published: 10 November 2013

Remembrance Day poppiesRCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, Dr Peter Carter, commemorates exceptional nursing staff this Remembrance Day.

"This week Royal College of Nursing staff across the UK joined remembrance services to mark the vital contribution of nursing staff throughout wartime.

"On Thursday 7 November the RCN President, Andrea Spyropoulos and RCN Council Member Rachel Greaves planted crosses in the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey. Then myself, Deputy President Cecilia Anim, RCN Council Member Peter Walsh, Major Chris Carter (Chair of the RCN’s Defence Nurses Forum) and Sergeant Mal Beckett, both of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, attended the Remembrance Sunday service at St Paul’s Cathedral where we laid a wreath to honour the memory of those who fell in the First and Second World Wars and later conflicts.

"Links between the military and the nursing profession are incredibly strong and go back many generations. Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole, and Edith Cavell, some of the most famous figures in nursing history, are each celebrated for the exceptional care they provided to wounded soldiers. The care practices developed on the frontline have played a pivotal role in laying the foundations of what we see as the nursing profession today.

"As we mark Remembrance Day it is important to re-visit both the immense sacrifices made by previous generations and the incredible courage and professionalism displayed by our service personnel today. This includes the many nurses and health care assistants working with the armed services.

"I recently had the honour of giving a reading at a service for 203 Field Hospital (V), a unit of the Territorial Army Medical Services, ahead of their deployment to Afghanistan. These dedicated health care professionals have volunteered to travel thousands of miles away from home to provide vital care to wounded troops and civilians. Having visited Afghanistan, I have seen first-hand the difficult and dangerous circumstances in which they operate and cannot praise the staff highly enough for the work they do. 

"Remembrance Day is a time to reflect upon the members of the nursing family who have lost their lives in conflict and the servicemen and women and civilians whom they cared for. Amongst the horrors of war, and at great risk to themselves, nurses continue to tend to the wounded and comfort the dying. By doing so, they help to uphold the ideals of humanity.

"Today we commemorate exceptional nursing staff throughout history, striving to save and improve lives at huge personal sacrifice."