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  • Writer's pictureThe Hub

International Nurses Day

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

Happy Birthday Florence!

Picture: Florence Nightingale tending to sick soldiers during the 1853-1856 Crimean War / Credit: The Print Collector / Getty Images

Florence Nightingale, the Lady with the Lamp, was born on May 12, 1820. Along with Mary Seacole, she is credited with establishing the cornerstones of modern nursing practices. Innovative nursing practices were developed by both women during the 1853-1856 Crimean War between Russia and Britain and other countries.

May 12 is now the culmination of International Nurses Week and is celebrated as International Nurses Day in honour of the service of nurses across the globe. Each year the International Council of Nurses (ICN) commemorates the day with the production and distribution of the International Nurses Day (IND) resources and evidence. 2021's theme is: Nurses: A Voice to Lead - A vision for future healthcare.

YouTube video: ICN President Annette Kennedy's IND 2021 video message

The Hub joins the celebrations this year with a dedicated 5-hour playlist (link below), with thanks to nurse Kathy Maskens, ward manager at Alexandra Frailty Unit, Epsom General Hospital, for the heads up! There is a link to The Hub's interview with Kathy below.

Picture: Kathy Maskens's student ID card at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, Hants / Credit: Kathy Maskens

Summon The Heroes

The playlist starts with Robbie Williams' Angels followed by John Williams' Summon The Heroes. Lady with the Lamp by Country Joe McDonald and Salute to The Nurses by Sgt. Barry Sadler remind us the modern profession was forged through sacrifice and service amidst the horrors of war. Nurse Master Charlie's I'm A Nurse! raps us through nurse training to all the things a nurse can do.

I am a Nurse was released in 2020 by the ICN as a tribute to the global nursing family and their commitment during Covid-19. The vocals were self-recorded on smartphones by nurses around the world, including the Tongan Nurses Choir. The song was written by ICN editor Colin Parish and his nephew Daniel Parish who also managed the production.

Profits from the song support the Florence Nightingale International Foundation's nursing education and research services. The Foundation’s Girl Child Education Fund supports education of girls in developing countries whose nurse parents have died.

YouTube video: I am a Nurse – a song for all the world’s nurses

On a lighter note, The Hub's personal favourite of the suite of the nurse-themed pop songs on the playlist is Night Nurse, a light reggae groove with Gregory Issacs' opening plea:

"Tell her try your best, just to make it quick

Woman tend to the sick

'Cause there must be something she can do

This heart, is broken in two

Tell her it's a case of emergency

There's a patient, by the name of Gregory"

Foreign Accents

A quartet of French / Spanish / German / Ukrainian language songs further reminds us of the global scope of nursing and of the often multi-national and multi-lingual work forces in hospitals in the UK and beyond. Fauve's French-accented-crescending Infirmière is the stand out musically.


Theme Songs

Who doesn't love curling up on a sofa at the end of a hard shift and indulging in a favourite hospital TV drama? The section starts with M*A*S*H, the 1970s movie and long-running TV series set in the Korean War, with the memorably-titled Suicide Is Painless by Johnny Mandel. Included are themes from ER, the TV series that brought heart throb George Clooney to a global audience, and "will-they won't-they?" drama, Grey's Anatomy.

YouTube video: Johnny Mandel - Suicide Is Painless Theme from (M*A*S*H)

The Hub: A Personal Tribute

International Nurses Day is a family and personal affair for The Hub, coming from a medical family and being the personal beneficiary of conscientious and expert care from a broad range of dedicated nursing staff.

Picture: Nurse Mary "Tilly" Walker proudly wearing her nurse's uniform with her State Registered Nurse (SRN) qualification badge / Picture Credit: Dr Paul Walker

Both sides of the The Hub's family have a medical father and nursing grandmother. The outlaws' grandmother, Mary "Tilly" Walker was originally from Darlington in the north of England and married a doctor who saw service in tending to the many medical needs of post-war Hamburg in the north of Germany.

Tilly, who is the great grandmother of The Hub's two children, qualified as a nurse in the early 1930s and was proud to be following so closely in the footsteps of Florence Nightingale. Registration of nurses by the General Nursing Council began in England on 30 September 1921 so in that sense Tilly was an early member of a new profession, as this brief history of nursing sets out.

Tilly's son Paul, studied natural sciences at Cambridge and qualified as a doctor at University College Hospital, London. Paul went on to a career as a public health specialist and NHS manager in England and Wales. He published From Public Health to Wellbeing: The New Driver for Policy and Action in 2010 and continues to comment on health issues via Health Matters.

Picture: The Hub's nursing grandmother Mary Naa Merya Armah-Kwantreng /

Credit: The Armah-Kwantreng Family

Further afield, The Hub's grandmother Mary Naa Merya Armah-Kwantreng qualified and practiced as a nurse at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in her native Accra, Ghana then known as the Gold Coast. Mary was educated at the 'Eton of Ghana', Achimota School, boarding at Slessor House. She also practiced at the Ridge Hospital (now the Greater Accra Regional Hospital), Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi and Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital in Sekondi.

Her daughter, Josephina Bannerman, fondly recalls her mother's love of dressing stylishly and staying with her during holidays from boarding school when Mary was working at Effia Kwanta Hospital. "At that time the matrons were all white, and strict, and when we visited our mother on night duty we had to keep out of their way!"

Picture: Richmond Nii Laryea Armah-Kwantreng (left) as a medical student at The Mater Hospital, Dublin with fellow students including (centre) South African surgeon Dr Conrad Kanda Koza / Credit: / CONRAD BRYAN

Mary's son, Richmond Nii Laryea, studied at University College Dublin, qualified at The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital (The Mater) in Dublin and practiced in Ireland, Wales and England as a psychiatrist. In the 1960s, the Irish government supported African students at Trinity College, University College Dublin, and the Royal College of Surgeons, studying medicine, law, and government administration to help build their newly independent states. Family relations led to a new generation of African-Irish children. Including The Hub!

Image: African-Irish - The Hub son of Dr Richmond Armah-Kwantreng (left)

and Conrad Bryan son of Dr Conrad Kanda Koza (right) /

Credit: The Hub and Conrad Bryan

Ironically, Dr Paul Walker and Dr Richmond Armah-Kwantreng not only connect as grandparents of the same teenagers but also shared a professional role in the early moves to close the large psychiatric hospitals in England. Dr Armah-Kwantreng first practiced in England at Claybury Hospital, Essex and lived with his family in a house within the grounds. As a consultant, he was tasked with the move to relocate psychiatric hospital residents to community facilities nearer their families in the Torbay area of south Devon.

Picture: Dr Paul Walker in his "prime" surrounded by colleagues from North Thames Regional Health Authority in the The Quad at St Bartholomew's Hospital /

Credit: Dr Paul Walker

As regional medical director for North Thames, Dr Walker took the decision to close Claybury Hospital and Friern Barnet, the two residential psychiatric hospitals in the region.

Picture: The Hub celebrating his 55th birthday with Veronica "Vicky" Barnes, a Skull Base and Pituitary CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist), at St George's Hospital, Tooting, London /

Credit: The Hub

Vicky Barnes is an exemplar of a professional nurse who marries mastering a complex clinical specialism, diseases of the skull base and pituitary gland, with the human skills of connecting a diverse clinical team and humanising the experience for the patient. Vicky brought all those skills to bear during The Hub's two stints of surgery and treatment by a talented MDT (Multi-Disciplinary Team) team on a pituitary gland tumour at St George's Hospital, Tooting, London.

Like many frontline staff, Vicky has been redeployed to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) under Covid-19 as emergency treatment has taken priority over relatively routine treatment. Of course there is an inevitable knock on effect for people seeking treatment for skull base and pituitary, and other conditions. Minimising this impact will be one of many challenges for nurses like Vicky, and other staff, post Covid-19.

On hearing Vicky is a Veronica "Vicky" The Hub sent her a link to one of his favourite upbeat Russian pop songs, Chica by Arthur Piroshkov, with the refrain "Veronika - Chica!". This is a bonus track not available on the Spotify playlist. Vicky said the link arrived at the end of a particularly hard shift and it was just the tonic she needed.

YouTube video: Арtур Пирожков "Чика" (Arthur Piroshkov "Chica")

The playlist concludes with Tina Turner's The Best, the opening song to The Hub's Epsom Hospital Radio weekly Friday mornings 10-12am show, and tribute to all the staff at the hospital and across the NHS.

To Vicky and nurses everywhere, past and present, from The Hub: You're simply The Best - Thank you!

YouTube video: Tina Turner - The Best (Official Music Video) [HD REMASTERED]

Interview with Nurse Kathy Maskens

You can listen to The Hub's interview with Kathy Maskens, ward manager at Alexandra Frailty Unit, Epsom General Hospital by clicking on the link below. Kathy discusses her soon-to-be-aired episode of Desert Island Discs and The Hub's return to live weekly broadcasting on Epsom Hospital Radio at a new time of Fridays 10-12am.

The aim of the new time is to use the music played on the show to assist with the progress of the patients on the ward. The show also recognises the contributions of the staff on Alexandra Ward and across the hospital by playing requests and reading out dedications.

Wartime Memories of St George's Nurses

The Kingston and St George’s Nursing oral history project ‘Nurse’s voices’ captures the experiences of nurses working at St George’s hospital in the 1940’s and 50’s. In the video below you can hear the memories of nurses during the Second World War. You can find more memories and information at Memories of Nurses, a celebration of nursing in the past.

YouTube video: Nurses Voices Wartime


You can listen to The Hub's International Nurses Day playlist by clicking on the link below.


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