Online recording to mark anniversary

The world will be celebrating Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday on May 12 but many events planned for the occasion have had to be cancelled.

However the team behind a new play celebrating her life are determined to give people the opportunity to hear part of it and have recorded a version which will be online from May 10.

Florence: Scenes from a Life has been adapted by George Gunby from his play Kissing Miss Nightingale’s Shadow. It features Ellie Ward as Florence Nightingale with music written and performed by Mat Williams and John Tams.

“We had performances scheduled throughout Florence’s birthday week. When they were cancelled we decided to record a version of the play, to put online.  It’s our gesture towards remembering a remarkable human being. Bearing in mind the opening of Nightingale hospitals during the current pandemic, it is appropriate that we remember Florence,” said George.

To listen to the recording go to

Florence Nightingale was born in Florence on 12 May 1820. She was a  statistician a social reformer and the driving force behind modern  nursing. Nightingale was put in charge of nursing British and allied soldiers in Turkey during the Crimean War.

She spent many hours in the wards, and her night rounds, giving personal care to the wounded, established her image as the “Lady with the Lamp.” When Florence returned from the Crimea, she was suffering from ‘Crimean fever’ – brucellosis – which confined her to bed for lengthy periods during the rest of her life.

However, the illness did not stop her efforts to formalise nursing education. To Florence, work was all important and it led her to establish the first scientifically based nursing school—the Nightingale School of Nursing, at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London  (opened 1860). She was instrumental in setting up training for midwives and nurses in workhouse infirmaries.

Florence was the first woman awarded the Order of Merit (1907) and International Nurses Day, observed annually on May 12, commemorates her birth and celebrates the important role of nurses in health care.

The celebrations this year will be extra special because the World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated 2020 as The Year of the Nurse and Midwife.