Parliament celebrates International Nurses Day and Florence Nightingale’s 200th Birthday

12 May 2020

From 8-11pm on Tuesday 12th May, an image of Florence Nightingale will be projected onto the Houses of Parliament as a tribute 200 years after her birth, along with a message of gratitude to health care workers across the United Kingdom.

The celebration, led by the Florence Nightingale Museum and supported by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, will see Parliament illuminated alongside St Thomas’ and Guy’s Hospitals in London.

This year’s celebration comes at a particularly relevant time, given the NHS’ pivotal role in supporting the nation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The illumination of the Palace was agreed to by the Speakers of both Houses of Parliament, in support and recognition of the important work nursing staff are undertaking across the country.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, said:

“No other time could be more appropriate to celebrate the birth of Florence Nightingale than right now when so many healthcare workers are putting their own lives at risk to treat patients with COVID-19.
"It is an honour to have her image projected onto Parliament as part of our national appreciation for the NHS and everyone who works for it.
"While I can understand many people will want to see this projection, I urge them to watch from a safe space and to avoid congregating on Westminster Bridge."

Lord Fowler, Lord Speaker, said:

“In the present health crisis, Florence Nightingale and the vast contribution she made to nursing is something I am delighted to support.
"As I remember from my time as Health Secretary, nurses are the heart and soul of our NHS. It is right that, at such a critical time, we honour the daily sacrifices they make and their continued dedication.
"Florence Nightingale is a figure to whom both British and Italians look to for inspiration and it is wonderful that Parliament, as well as St Thomas’ Hospital, Guy’s Hospital and L. Spallanzani Hospital in Rome, will be illuminated with her image. It is my hope is that her enduring legacy will strengthen the relationship between our two nations and inspire a new generation of healthcare workers at what is such a challenging time for the NHS."

Members of the public are urged to follow social distancing guidelines and not congregate on the southern bank of the Thames or on Westminster Bridge to view the projection.

Image: Florence Nightingale Museum

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