Mary Jane Seacole was a Jamaican-born nurse who helped soldiers during the Crimean War. Seacole had a good education, and developed an interest in medicine and nursing from her mother, who was a traditional healer. At the start of the Crimean War in 1853, she went to London to offer her services. Her application to join Florence Nightingale’s nursing team was refused. Many nurses turned down, whether because of their class background or, in this case, probably, ethnicity. Instead of giving up, Mary Seacole sailed to the Crimea at her own expense. She and Thomas Day (a relative in the shipping business) opened the British Hotel near Balaclava a few months later in 1855. Using it as a base, she would take mules laden with food, wine and medicines across country to the battlefield front lines at Redan, Sebastopol and Tchernaya. She obtained special passes, which allowed her to look after the wounded and dying on both sides. When she arrived back in London in 1856, Seacole was bankrupt from debts run up by soldiers at the British Hotel. The newspapers started a public campaign to raise money for her, backed by royalty and a grateful British Army. Mary Seacole converted to Catholicism late in life and is buried in St Mary’s Catholic cemetery, Kensal Green, London.
8SDJS - Miss D Saban
8SMKC - Miss M Calwell