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Florence Nightingale

Born: 12 May 1820

Died: 13 August 1910

Nationality: British

Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy. Her mother wanted Florence to marry a rich man, however, Florence was a devout Christian and when she was 17 she felt God was calling her to serve him. At first Florence was not sure how God wanted her to serve but by 1844 she was convinced she was to nurse the sick. Her parents were horrified because at that time nursing was definitely not a respectable job. They tried to talk Florence out of it but she was determined.

It was several years before she got any nursing experience. In 1853, she was given her first post reorganising a small hospital in London, the Institution for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Distressed Circumstances. She did an excellent job. As a result of her work, the Secretary of War invited her to go on a mission to help soldiers wounded fighting the Russians. At that time Britain, France and Turkey were fighting Russia. Florence Nightingale sailed with 38 nurses to Turkey in 1854. Florence found military hospitals to be dirty and bare and a great numbers of soldiers were dying of disease. She worked very long hours to bring order and cleanliness to the hospitals and she became a heroine to the British public.

Florence Nightingale returned to Britain in 1856. She was commissioned to investigate the living conditions of British soldiers in peacetime. In 1858 she published her findings in two books. In 1860, Florence Nightingale opened the Nightingale Training School for Nurses at St Thomas Hospital and greatly raised standards of nursing. Her work did not go unrecognised and in 1907, she was awarded the Order of Merit.

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