Educate, Inspire, Aspire
It is hard to believe that 3 years have passed since the historic unveiling of the Mary Seacole Statue at St Thomas’ Hospital, London. The coming together of the community through donations and the incredible hard work of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal Trustees and Ambassadors gave rise to this momentous occasion following a 12 year appeal.
It was intended that the statue should recognize Mary’s historic contribution but it was equally important to us, the Mary Seacole Trust, (the new guise of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal) that the statue represented just the start of an enduring legacy highlighting and promoting Mary’s inspirational values.
We celebrated the third anniversary of the unveiling with our inaugural fundraising dinner “Seacole Smile” on 27th June 2019 in Canary Wharf. The event showcased the work of the Mary Seacole Trust and was fittingly opened with a song by members of the Mary Seacole Trust Youth Advisory Committee.
It also included “in conversations” led by Karen Bonner with our Ambassador; Trauma Surgeon Martin Griffiths, who spoke of his work in relation to knife crime, NHS Policy Lead and Mary Seacole Trust Ambassador Dr Habib Naqvi, who spoke about his significant policy research in respect of race equality. Our patron, Dame Professor Elizabeth Anionwu, also spoke about her incredible journey as a nurse and her very significant contribution in respect of the statue appeal.
The event raised approximately £8,000, those much needed funds will be used to continue the legacy work of the Mary Seacole Trust. This includes our “Young Seacole Ambassador’s Initiative”, where we ask young people to identify their modern day Mary.
We will also continue our wonderful partnership with the Florence Nightingale Museum to ensure Mary has an enduring presence within the museum and continue our work championing social equality particularly, in respect of our Diversity in Leadership programme.
Strength in Partnerships
We value our partnership with the Nursing Times and look forward to continuing our partnership at the Nursing Times Awards where we have contributed to diversity awards both at the Student Nursing Times Awards and the Workforce Awards.
It was important however that the Windrush scandal did not overshadow the significance of marking the contribution of the Windrush generation and their descendants on Windrush Day which took place on 22 June 2019, a matter of days before the third anniversary of the statue unveiling and we were delighted to be present and support various celebratory events.
Youth Advisory Commitee (YAC)
As Chair, I believe it is important that we continue to remind ourselves of the importance and value of the work we do. It was at our inaugural fundraising dinner that I recounted the story of a young lady who approached me following a talk which I gave at City Hall. Her story epitomizes the importance of our work and indeed, why it is important that we all continue to work together to create a society which educates in respect of Mary Seacole and her values. We must continue to tell the powerful stories of individuals who have prevailed notwithstanding various challenges, obstacles that they have faced within society and overcome.
Their stories inspire others to do great things.
We must remove the shadows of doubt so that young people believe that they can achieve – we must ensure that young people feel that there is no ceiling and that their aspirations can become a reality.
It was this young lady who epitomized our aims. She told me that she arrived in England when she was about 7, her mother spoke very little English and her father was unable to provide the support she required. By 13 she found herself in a gang dealing drugs. Her aspiration was to become the most successful female drug dealer in her area, this was something which she was to achieve within a few years. By the age of 17 she found herself pregnant and had a young child. It was in her 20s that she recognised that she needed to find a new direction; she left the gang and began her work to support other young females who sought to leave the gangs which had turned their lives upside down.
This lady was emotional when she spoke to me; she told me that hearing Mary’s story was an inspiration, hearing me, a man, speaking about the incredible work of Mary and the importance of her values, also left her feeling empowered. She was determined, as a result, to continue her fight against the challenges that young people face which draws them into gangs and she explained how she would use Mary’s story to inspire and to help young people to believe that they can aspire.
This young lady is reflective of the many people that I have met, as is the case with our Trustees and Ambassadors, which shows the power of Mary’s story, not only the power of her story itself but how her values can empower. In educating and in powering aspiration, we can truly make a difference in our society so as to ensure social equality, equality of opportunity and equality of outcome.
It is these objectives which we believe will truly make “Seacole Smile”.
Written by Trevor Sterling
I have always been very heavily involved with charities and always keen to provide hands on support to those in need. To let you in on a little bit about myself, I was born in Preston (North West England) and my parents were originally from Iraq. Having visited the country many times, I have been exposed to people and areas where support and help is fundamental. I have been taught from a very young age to treat people of all ages, race, gender and position equally.
As I grew up and became more involved in the ‘real world’ I became far more aware that unfortunately whilst many speak of the need for social equality, this is not always the case both when looking across the professional boards but also schooling for younger children.
I started volunteering for The Mary Seacole Trust 3 years ago.
For me, the charity ticks all the boxes when looking at social equality and wanting to support and make a difference.
Mary Seacole herself, a female of ethnic minority was so strong and determined to make sure that she was on the front line to provide help and support for the soldiers. Mary epitomises the definition of an inspiration and role model.
The Mary Seacole Trust is made up of board members from all different backgrounds, including gender, race, age which brings together a variety of skill and knowledge to the board that has transpired to form such fantastic programmes to promote and run, including:
- Education Programme – involving children from the age of around 5 through to their teens, teaching them about Mary and her story, inspiring and also providing support and guidance to the younger generation around issues that affect them daily; a significant one being around gun & knife crime
- Diversity in Leadership – bringing together the private and public sector to look at ways of encouraging and promoting a diverse board, again allowing such a variety of skill and knowledge to be brought to the table resulting in much stronger boards and companies
- Mary Seacole’s Statue and Memorial Plaque – providing ongoing funds to maintain the infamous and phenomenal statue and plaque to be maintained, allowing children and others to visit to remember Mary and her story and continue to be inspired.
The Trust continues to do incredible work, reaching out to all ages and individuals, strengthening the charity itself by allowing voices to be heard, real life stories, struggles and ways to improve and provide the support to those who need it.
So, in answer to the question above, why do I volunteer at the Mary Seacole Trust? Quite simply, I feel drawn to such an incredible charity, promoting Mary’s legacy, looking at current affairs and concerns to try and achieve social equality and taking the time out to speak and listen to all members of the board and volunteers, working together, mark our stamp and help make a difference.
If anyone is interested in volunteering I would be happy to speak to you about this and answer any questions you may have.
London to Windsor Bike Ride
We have completed our annual London to Windsor Charity Cycle Challenge for the 5th year running!
Thank you to all team of attendees and cyclists, including our YAC member Rio Sterling who also helped us to raise money for the Mary Seacole Trust.
A special 'Thank You' to MooreBlatch for your continued support