IT was an act of selfless heroism that symbolised the qualities that still endear nurses to the British people.
Now the next generation of nurses are to honour Edith Cavell, a First World War nurse executed for saving lives.
She was shot by a German firing squad in October 1915 for helping more than 200 Allied soldiers escape in occupied Belgium.
Student nurse Bethany Walker, 22, will join 100 others in a bid to climb Canada’s 3,363-metre Mount Edith Cavell next August for a charity in the nurse’s honour.
Miss Walker, a former pupil of Wood Green School, Witney, said: “It is the acts of pure kind-heartedness like this that inspire me to be the best nurse I can and to touch as many lives as possible without judgment, like she did.”
Canada’s 3,363-metre Mount Edith Cavell, which Miss Walker will attempt to climb
Miss Walker, a nursing student at Southampton University, is due to start her nursing career in the cardiac unit of Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital in September.
Sister to brothers Daniel, 25, Sam, 21, and sister Lauren, 17, Miss Walker said: “I have been looking for something exciting, something challenging, for a while and read up on the back story.”
Miss Walker has been inspired by her care home assistant mother Sue, adding: “I can’t imagine doing anything else and know I have done my absolute best to make things better for others. It is just helping people. I have always been that kind of mum figure.”
A half-marathon in Bournemouth in October and a trek up Wales’s 1,085-metre Mount Snowdon with her mother are among her preparations.
“I think it’s going to be hard work but I’m hoping I will thrive on the challenge.”
The charity, The Nation’s Fund for Nurses, was set up in 1917 amid an international outcry over Edith Cavell’s death and is now known as the Cavell Nurses’ Trust.
It provides funds to help nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants “in their time of need”.
The Redditch-based charity wants each climber to raise £5,000 as part of a bid to raise £3m by next October.
Charity patron and broadcaster Loyd Grossman said: “Edith Cavell was an important figure whose humanity and compassion for the injured and sick on both sides of the conflict during the First World War shone through a very dark time in history.
“These qualities still have the power to inspire us today.”
EDITH CAVELL FACTFILE
- Edith Cavell, below, was born in Swardeston, near Norwich, Norfolk, on December 4, 1865.
- Nursing her father, Rev Frederick Cavell back to health from a brief illness in 1895 helped her resolve to take up a career in nursing.
- She went to Brussels to work at the Ecole Belge d'Infirmieres Diplomees school for lay nurses.
- By 1912 she was providing nurses for three hospitals, 24 communal schools and 13 kindergartens.
- With the outbreak of war her clinic became a Red Cross Hospital, where she began harbouring allied soldiers and ensuring their move to neutral territory in Holland.
- She was interned after two members of the escape route team were arrested on July 31, 1915, and gave details of the operation when told other prisoners had confessed.
- She was executed on October 12, 1915.
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