The 58th annual Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service occurred on Tuesday 16 May at St Paul's Cathedral in London. The yearly service at Westminster Abbey was changed to St Paul's due to the coronation of King Charles III.
The Florence Nightingale Foundation supports and develops nurses and midwives in the UK. HRH Princess Alexandra has been the Patron since 1957. The Foundation has hosted annual services to commemorate Florence Nightingale's life since 1965 in Westminster Abbey. It has only been cancelled once due to the Covid pandemic in 2020.
Florence Nightingale was known as "The Lady with The Lamp" as she made her rounds at night, tending to the soldiers wounded in the Crimean War. Central to the commemoration service is the Lamp. The Lamp was purchased in memory of Mrs Kathleen Dampier-Bennett, a supporter (committee member) of the Foundation from 1951–1968. The Lamp is inscribed in her memory and dedicated by the Dean of Westminster at the service on 12 May 1970, the 150th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth. It has been used at every service since.
Angela Knight Jackson MBE reflects on her experience of attending this service.
"Sometimes your career takes you along paths you could never dream of. Tuesday 16 May was one of those moments as I was chosen and represented the Chief Nursing Officer for England with the sacred responsibility of delivering one of the bidding prayers for the 58th annual Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service at St Paul's Cathedral, London."
The service is one of thanksgiving with chorister songs, congregational hymns, readings, prayers and, of course, a sermon. It is a memorable occasion remembering those nurses and midwives dedicated to the service of others, some paying the ultimate price with their lives. The Covid-19 pandemic Roll of Honour is dedicated to the healthcare workers who courageously and selflessly provided care during the pandemic. The Commonwealth Roll of Honour commemorates nurses who died in active service during the Second World War.
Jackson said, "A special moment is 'the procession of the burning lamp which signifies the undying spirit of the service' displayed by Florence Nightingale demonstrated by nurses and midwives today. It is a time to pause, reflect, and rededicate us to our professions."
Jackson adds, "I thank God that, once again, the Foundation chose me to pray to the King of Kings on this auspicious occasion. As I near the end of my career and service in England, I am mindful of my responsibility to pass on the Lamp to others and coach and mentor those called into the healthcare profession. I have linked in with Adventist Doctors Support Network (ADSN) to build a nurse and midwifery network."
Watch: The Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service - Florence Nightingale Foundation (Florence-nightingale-foundation.org.uk)