Stay alert. Control the Virus. Save Lives.

We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • work from home if you can
  • limit contact with other people
  • keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
  • wash your hands regularly
  • do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms

Statement from Lisa Rodrigues CBE, Vice Chair on #blacklivesmatter

Lisa Rodrigues CBE, Mary Seacole Trust Vice Chair

We felt it would be remiss not to comment on what is happening in the US and UK following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man. Mr Floyd was killed by an on-duty white police officer who knelt on his neck for 8 minutes 46 seconds watched by three other officers while he pleaded in vain for his life. His death has been officially classified as homicide.

There is so much that has been said already about this terrible event and the subsequent demonstrations. I will make just three points.

1. To the people who are saying, in response to Black Lives Matter protests, that all lives matter: you are right but also so wrong. And I can’t think of a better way of explaining why than via this cartoon, which was shared by my erstwhile colleague and wise friend Scott Durairaj.

2. To the people who question the need for demonstrations in the UK because what happened, happened in America, I say this.

The roots of what went wrong for George Floyd, lie as much in the UK as they do across the Atlantic.

George was one in a long, cruel line of black people who have died in custody. His death came as we learned more about the disproportionate burden of Covid-19 on people from BAME backgrounds, and in the wake of the shocking way that people from the Windrush generation have been treated by successive governments. As a white person, I can empathise but I can never share these experiences. I am very much in agreement with what James Corden says in the video below

3. At the Mary Seacole Trust, we do not condone violence. And we are troubled by mass gatherings during the pandemic. But we understand why people are so angry and why the statue in Bristol of slave trader Edward Colston was toppled. How much more powerful it would have been if those in authority had taken it down, or at least done enough to make it clear how Colston, known as a generous philanthropist, made his money by trading in black human lives and treating them as commodities to be bought, sold, branded, beaten and thrown in the sea to drown.

We believe that structural racism lies at the heart of all the inequalities black and minority ethnic people face in the UK. We will continue to play our part in tackling this racism and promote the values of Mary Seacole, a woman of colour, who never took no for an answer in her quest to help others.

What would Mary do today?

I think she would listen, speak up when she saw things that were wrong, and encourage people to make their protests passionately and peacefully. And she would never give up in the fight for fairness and equality.

Trevor Sterling, Mary Seacole Trust Chair

A time for healing and reflection...

Given we are in the midst of the Covid19 pandemic, which has us locked down in our homes and/or engaged in social distancing, it is perhaps unsurprising that writing this newsletter was particularly difficult.

In this newsletter, we talk about how we see the impact of the Pandemic. The Mary Seacole Youth Advisory Committee also discusses the impact of lock down on their young lives, families, school lives and friendships.

It is wonderful to give young people this voice.
Youth Advisory Committee, January 2020

NHS Seacole is launched

Trevor Sterling was privileged to represent the MST this May, in jointly unveiling the NHS Seacole Centre name sign at Headley Court with Health & Social Care Secretary; Mr Matt Hancock.

Trevor Sterling and Matt Hancock unveiling Headley Court 'name sign'

It is entirely appropriate that Mary is recognised in the naming of the COVID-19 NHS rehabilitation centre, alongside the Nightingale Hospitals.

We are incredibly proud of our Ambassador Dr Habib Naqvi for his tireless liaison which helped facilitate this, supported of course by the wider community. Dr Habib Naqvi reveals more about the events which led to the opening of the first NHS Seacole Centre...

Dr Habib Naqvi MBE

Thoughts on diverse leadership during Covid-19

Written by Dr Habib Naqvi MBE, Mary Seacole Trust Ambassador

Diversity in leadership brings benefits for everyone; both employees and the users of our services. Diversity also leads to greater innovation, access to a wider pool of talent, and leads to a better place to work, with even greater impact.

Yet, whilst the dream of equal opportunity for all has not yet come true, its promise still exists.

But words alone will not meet the needs of those that are disadvantaged in society; needs will only be met if we act boldly, today, every day, and in the years ahead.

In general, and right across society, black and minority ethnic (BME) folk do less well – whether that’s in relation to educational achievement, health, wealth, housing, employment, the list goes on. This is the pattern seen for BME people within white-majority countries.

In recent months, the coronavirus has shone the brightest of lights on the racial stratification of inequality that we see in the UK.

The virus is having a disproportionate impact on BAME communities and key workers; many paying the ultimate sacrifice.

In our response, we must look towards tackling the root-causes of these inequalities. This has to be the watershed moment for society, where it holds up a mirror to its own values, morals and constructs of equality, to make transformational and sustained change for everyone.

This is a testing time for all, but we must face these challenges head-on. Unless the challenges are shared, the failure to meet them will hurt us all; and whilst we may be humbled by the task before us, we are also firm in the belief that, together we can, and must, make a lasting difference on this agenda.

We all have a role to play in turning the dream into reality, and in narrowing the gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of our time. So, we have a choice: we can be bystanders to this issue, or we can come together and tackle the very root causes of inequalities.

This agenda should not be a burden for those that are most affected by it; transformation in this area requires the collective efforts of everyone.

Whilst we may not all come from the same place, we all need to move in the same direction.

In Conversation with... Colonel David Bates

Colonel David Bates

With all schools and educational institutions closed except for key workers manning essential services higher and further education has moved off campus and into the ether!

The current COVID pandemic has demonstrated the value of online learning and many learners and their teachers or tutors have been forced to use the medium or stop learning.

I am fortunate to be a peripatetic lecturer anyway, with all of my modules being delivered online to a potentially global student population. I teach disaster response and humanitarian action and currently have learners in the Middle East, the US and Central America. I also deploy regularly with the Army Reserve and a small NGO to remote and often austere environments. I take my lap-top with me, ensure I have WIFI connectivity, a VPN and I’m back in the virtual classroom.

Online teaching teams have been supporting those less or unfamiliar with this blended learning style that does not need face to face tuition. One lesson that we have learned from our classroom-based colleagues is that we probably take on more work than we have capacity for and regularly run over our contracted hours.

In the spirit of Mary Seacole we continue to support our learners in the face of adversity, many of whom are working on the frontline as paramedics, nurses and AHPs. We are seeing the toll that the pandemic is taking on them with some having to delay their studies until they are less busy with families, work and sometimes illness. This situation demands understanding and compassion, qualities that Mary had in bounteous qualities!

So as I am Skype-ing, Zooming or MS Teaming at this time I’m often reflecting on Mary’s experience of managing communicable diseases in particular and disaster situations in general and continuously learning herself as observed by the Surgeon General in the East’s assessment of her work.

I hope that I can be steadfast, courageous and versatile and win through this current crisis to continue to support our learners in FE inspired by a true National and International Hero.

International Nurses Day

International Nurses' Day is celebrated around the world each year on 12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth.

This year in particular it’s an extra special occasion because not only does it fall during the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, it also marks the 200th anniversary of Nightingale’s birth.

In light of the current crisis, we enter a time of reflection rather than celebration and in doing so we also acknowledge and remember the many brave lives lost as a result of fighting this pandemic.

A plaque commemorating healthcare workers who have put themselves at risk to care for people in the Millennium Gardens of St Thomas’ Hospital, becomes all the more poignant. The plaque reads:

"This plaque is to honour those healthcare workers who have dedicated themselves to aiding others in times of war, conflict and catastrophe throughout history."

Let’s continue to support each other and stay safe.


Given these difficult times, it was great to see the nation come together to clap or recognise the contribution of our health workers. It is also all the more necessary that we continue to recognise this year as the International Year of the Nurse & Midwife.

In doing so we also acknowledge and remember the many brave lives lost as a result of fighting this pandemic.

Let’s continue to support each other and stay safe.
Karen Bonner, MST Chair of Diversity in Leadership
Youth Advisory Comittee

Youth Advisory Commitee (YAC)

Like most of the UK teenagers, our YACs have been at home during lockdown, adhering to Government guidance.

See below video where our YACs have shared their views on the impact of COVID-19 on them and importantly, how this has impacted their lives and studies.

Seacole Movie

We can certainly look forward to next year for many reasons but particularly because of the new Seacole movie.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw is set to play Mary Seacole

This will undoubtedly create a great opportunity to showcase part of our position in the nursing history, to the world and enable us to reflect on the great contributions from everyone from everywhere.

Billy Peterson (Seacole Movie Director) at our Board Meeting in November 2019
This remains a fantastic way to mark the end of the Year of the Nurse & Midwife!

As Covid19 subsides, we look forward to being able to venture to the cinema to watch the new Seacole film released next year. Let us make this, 'the go to' film of 2021 and show the world a piece of our great history .

More updates on the film to follow...

A moment of clarity...

by Trevor Sterling

I remember celebrating my birthday on March 1st. I was filled with much excitement as this was just before I was due to fly to Jamaica with Lisa Rodrigues, the Mary Seacole Trust Vice Chair.

Trevor Sterling and Lisa Rodrigues at the Institure of Jamaica

We travelled to Kingston, Jamaica, for a reception hosted by the Institute of Jamaica for the Mary Seacole Foundation re-launch. We were proud to announce the joint venture to roll out of our Young Seacole Ambassadors competition to Jamaican school children in 2021

Unbeknownst to us , this short and meaningful trip was to be the last that we would make for a long time, as a result of the global lockdown, which so swiftly followed due to Covid19. Within days of our departure, the virus took hold here and in Jamaica and amongst other things, schools were closed and children were sent home. This was disruptive here, but of course the impact of Covid19 is sadly greatly amplified in poorer nations.

These have been incredibly difficult times with many lives lost here and abroad. Once again, following conflict or crisis, we have seen tremendous reliance on those from ethnic minority backgrounds and evidence that social disadvantage impacts on their health outcomes. It would appear that even with disease, life or death is often dependent on race and one’s social position. I, for one, welcome the investigations into the disproportionate impact of Covid19 on ethnic minorities.

As I always say, all things both good and bad, are eventually consigned to history. It is important however that lessons to be learned, or already learned, must not also be consigned to history. One lesson that we hope is learned, is the key role that many from diverse backgrounds play, particularly those described as “Essential Workers”. Perhaps in the future this, or similar nomenclature, will be used rather than simply the misnomer of “Unskilled Worker”.

A further lesson to be learned from this pandemic is that...

richness comes from being caring & compassionate, not from the possessions we have

We have surely now learned that our possessions & freedoms can so easily and quickly be swept away.

Thank you to Sharmazing Art for this wonderful picture of Mary (April 2020)

As always, we are thankful for all the support from the wider “Seacole family” and are grateful for any contributions which enable the wonderful adventures of Seacole to continue.

Thank you to the countless individuals working for the NHS, frontline services, keyworkers and anyone working within health and social care, protecting people and putting themselves at risk.

We salute you.

We would encourage our members to also visit the Florence Nightingale Museum online store

MST Trustees, Youth Advisory Committee, Ambassadors & Volunteers at our Strategy Away Day (June 2019)

The Mary Seacole Trustees

Chair: Trevor Sterling

Vice Chair: Lisa Rodrigues CBE

Media Advisor: Jean Gray

Karen Bonner

Colonel David Bates

Mark Douglas

Jermaine Sterling

Treasurer: Raf Alam

Secretary: Eman Hassan

Ambassadors: Martin Griffiths & Dr Habib Naqvi

Life Patrons: Lord Clive Soley & Dame Elizabeth Anionwu

President: Dawn Hill CBE

The Mary Seacole Statue situated at Guy's & St Thomas' Hospital, Waterloo, London

This is our quarterly newsletter for members and supporters. We hope you've enjoyed it. Please send comments and ideas for articles to contact@maryseacoletrust.org.uk.

All that remains, is for us to say, thank you for your continued support.

Created By
Jermaine Sterling