May 12, 2021 – Actress Helena Bonham Carter, who is related to Florence Nightingale, will give a reading at a special service at Westminster Abbey to mark the contribution, dedication and sacrifice of nurses and midwives during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The service is organised by the Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) to commemorate Florence Nightingale and International Nurses’ Day.  The star of Netflix’s hit show The Crown will join other high-profile guests and nursing and midwifery leaders to recognise and pay tribute to the achievements of nurses and midwives over the past year. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, will also be in attendance and will be taking part in a special tribute to nurses and midwives.


Helena Bonham Carter, a two-time Oscar nominee, has asked members of the public to join her in thanking nurses and midwives by donating to FNF’s Florence Nightingale White Rose Appeal. Last year the appeal raised £88,000 for nurses and midwives working on the COVID-19 frontline, and beyond this pandemic. In particular they had access to a special programme providing emotional and wellbeing support to nurses and midwives working during the pandemic.


Bonham Carter’s great, great, grandmother was Florence Nightingale’s aunt – a connection she is very proud of.


Bonham Carter said: “I’m honoured to be part of this special service. Us actors regularly get awards for basically pretending to be heroines, but we all know that particularly this last year it is the nurses who are the real heroes and deserve real recognition.  They have been there for our loved ones – our mothers, our fathers, our friends- providing care and comfort to patients during this horrendous pandemic. Some have lost their lives. They have selflessly put their lives on hold to support others under the most stressful of circumstances and we are all indebted to them.


“Just like Florence Nightingale who nursed soldiers injured on battlefields of the Crimea, nurses today have been fighting for lives on the frontline of the pandemic.


“My great grandfather Henry Bonham Carter, Florence’s first cousin helped create the Florence Nightingale Fund in 1857. His sister, Hilary Bonham Carter was Florence’s cousin and secretary. My great, great uncle, Walter Bonham Carter, helped to establish the now named Florence Nightingale Foundation in 1934. So I feel I’ve inherited a family responsibility to support the Foundation – us BCs have traditionally been good and useful executive guardians of the great woman’s vision. I also hold a great personal gratitude to the countless nurses who cared for my father during his 24 years of disability.”


Health and Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “It is a privilege to attend this service in person to commemorate Florence Nightingale and all those brilliant individuals who have chosen to follow in her footsteps to this day.


“Today’s service will be a time of reflection and gratitude for our incredible nurses and midwives who have worked day and night to care for patients and give them hope, at a time that has tested all of us, not least those on the frontline. ”


Professor Greta Westwood CBE, CEO of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, said: “During the pandemic nurses and midwives have worked 12-hour shifts in PPE, moved away from loved ones to protect them from COVID-19 and faced challenges never encountered before. They have come to work day in and day out, on empty, always ready to support their colleagues and patients.”


“Today we honour, thank and remember the nurses and midwives who have never hesitated to help others during this pandemic; they are Florence Nightingale’s legacy today.”


“The esteemed Officers and Trustees of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, many of who are nurses, have enabled the Foundation to develop into the highly respected and successful nursing and midwifery charity it is today”.


The Florence Nightingale Commemoration service will be streamed live on Wednesday 12th May at 5pm and you can watch it here:


Details about the Florence Nightingale White Rose Appeal can be found here:




For more information and interviews please contact:


Aysha Awan, Director of Communications, Florence Nightingale Foundation

Mobile: 07974 666 815 / Email: [email protected]


Notes to editors 


The Florence Nightingale Foundation

Florence Nightingale is undoubtedly the world’s most famous nurse and her influence continues to inspire the world of nursing today. The aim of the Foundation since it was founded in 1929 is to empower its scholars to become great nursing and midwifery leaders, honouring Florence’s legacy. The Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) offers three types of Scholarships: Leadership, Research and Travel.


The FNF Leadership Scholars are awarded as 12-month bespoke scholarship programme, including leadership development. Our travel scholars access valuable training and development in the UK and overseas. Our scholarships have an excellent record of delivery; all scholars undertake projects focused on improving patient care and health outcomes. Within two years the majority are promoted to more senior roles as a result of their scholarship. We also offer a 6-month leadership programme for early-career nurses and midwives. Our scholarship and leadership programme offer is unique. Applications are competitive and they are highly sought after, with an excellent record of delivery and career development.


The Officers of the Foundation include:


Mary Watkins, Baroness Watkins of Tavistock, a Registered Nurse and Registered health Nurse, is the President of the Foundation. She sits as a Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords and is Visiting Professor in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care, King’s College London and is a former Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Plymouth University. She is currently alternate chair of Nursing Now, a global initiative to raise the profile of nursing, and in this role was co-chair of the World Health Organisation’s review of the State of the World Nursing which reported in 2020.


Dame Yvonne Moores is the Chair of the Foundation. Dame Yvonne has been Chief Nursing Officer for Wales, Scotland and later England. Upon her retirement, Yvonne has been Pro-Chancellor of two universities, a Non-Executive Director of the National House Building Council, Chair of the Trustees of the Company’s Pension Fund, Chair of WHO’s Global Advisory Group on Nursing in Geneva and Vice Chair of an NHS Foundation Trust. She helped create Poole Africa Link which fosters health care and education initiatives in South Sudan and Uganda. Dame Yvonne in her capacity as an international advisor to the Princess Srinagarindra Foundation selects the “World Nurse of the Year”.  In 2017 she was the sixth recipient in 25 years of Sigma Theta Tau’s International lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her “extraordinary contribution to the health and wellbeing of world citizens”.


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