An Advanced Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (ANNP) from Plymouth who was invited to attend the annual commemoration of the life and work of Florence Nightingale at Westminster Abbey last week (Wednesday 7 May 2014) has reflected on her memorable experience.
The annual service is held to celebrate nursing and midwifery staff, both registered and unregistered, working in these services. Nurses, midwives, health visitors and government ministers were amongst those attending, as well as the Chief Nurse for England, Jane Cummings and Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, Patron of the Florence Nightingale Foundation.
Róisín McKeon-Carter, who works in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Derriford Hospital, was selected to be part of the procession of nurses who escorted a lamp, symbolic of the iconic nurse, during the service.
The lamp was taken from the Florence Nightingale Chapel and carried by a Scholar of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, escorted by Róisín and fellow Scholars. As they walked through Westminster Abbey, they were followed by student nurses and midwives from The University of the West of England.
On arrival at the High Alter, the lamp was passed amongst the three Scholars. Once it was with Róisín, she then passed it to the Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who led the service and gave the Address.
Speaking after the event, Róisín said: “It was such a memorable experience and it really brought home to me how proud we as nurses should be of the care we give.
“I attended last year as a guest and felt so proud of my nursing profession therefore it was truly an honour to be invited back this year and to be asked to take part in the procession to carry the lamp.”
After the service, a reception was held in the Jerusalem Chamber, which Róisín attended with her invited guests, husband Graham and twin sister Margaret with her husband Brendan, who had travelled from Ireland for the occasion.
Róisín enthused about the reception, in which the Dean informed those present of the history of the Jerusalem Chamber. Her Royal Highness mingled with the assembled group taking time to speak to everyone including the scholars. Róisín also chatted to Jane Cummings, the Chief Nurse of England and took the opportunity to fly the flag for Plymouth.
Róisín added: “I told the Chief Nurse about how in Plymouth we had subscribed to the 6Cs and how our nursing and midwifery teams are all embracing it.”