As we approach the third anniversary of the Mary Seacole statue unveiling on 30th June, there is cause to reflect on the wonderful legacy achievements of the last three years. On behalf of the Mary Seacole Trust...
I would like to extend thanks to everyone for their wonderful support during this period.
The last few months have shown no slowing of pace in respect of our activities and there have been some exciting developments! We were delighted to appoint two wonderful Ambassadors, the first being Dr Habib Naqvi, the Policy Lead for the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard at NHS England, and the author of the Mary Seacole Trust Literature Review on Race Equality in the Workplace.
The second appointment being Lead Trauma Surgeon at Royal London Hospital, Mr Martin Griffiths, who has done incredible work in respect of engagement with young people, knife crime in particular. I also take this opportunity to congratulate Martin on being commissioned as a Deputy Lieutenant by the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London.
In recent months, we have increased our activity with the engagement of young people. We have established a Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) to appraise us of the concerns of young people but equally we are able to give them a voice. Aside from our “YAC” members, we continue to sponsor the Seacole Dynamos and we congratulate them on another fantastic season resulting in them winning the Sutton Little League football League Cup.
A few things to watch out for - We were very proud to be judging the newly created Mary Seacole Award, for the Outstanding Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion category at the Nursing Times Student Awards on April 26th, as well as the Diversity Champion Award category at the Nursing Times Workforce Awards later this year.
The campaign for an ethnic minority to appear on the new £50 note also continues to gain momentum. I was delighted to be interviewed for News At Ten earlier in April following MP Helen Grant’s speech in the House of Commons. It has also recently been announced that a Hollywood movie is to be made so... WATCH THIS SPACE!
Seacole Dynamos Football Team
Our Trustees, Trevor and Jermaine previously managed the Seacole Ospreys. However, Trevor and Jermaine moved up an age group (and league) at the start of the 2018-19 campaign, to coach the newly named Mary Seacole 'Dynamos' Football Team in the Sutton Little League.
Trevor and Jermaine coached the team and attended all matchdays weekly. The parents of the players supported the Seacole Dynamos week in, week out, come rain or sunshine.
Despite our goalkeeper suffering an injury ahead of kick off, our Seacole Dynamos won the League Cup Final 1-0 against the Angels, after a very tough game. Ironically, our injured goalkeeper James, scored the winner!
At the end of the season, some of our players, Toby, Romario and Nathan were also chosen to represent the Sutton Little League in a regional tournament. They progressed to semi-final stages.
Overall, the season provided fantastic achievements for the team and we are extremely grateful to the players, the managers, the parents and the fans for such amazing support through the season.
The best bits of the 2018-19 season
What would Mary Seacole do?
We live in the strangest of times.
As one of the wealthiest and healthiest countries in the world, right now, we might be taking action on climate change. We might be offering asylum to people from war-torn parts of the world like Yemen and Syria. We might be holding out the hand of friendship to the 3 million people from African countries affected by Cyclone Idai.
Closer to home, we might be focused on the alarming rise in homelessness, insecure work and housing, knife crime, racism and religious intolerance. We might be talking about what to do about the declining mental health of young people and the deteriorating state of public services. Not to mention showing concern for communities who feel they have been left on the economic scrap heap, while disabled people are driven to suicide over changes in the benefits system.
Instead, Britain’s exit from the European Union has pushed almost all other priorities aside. The polarization unleashed by the 2016 referendum, which took place the week before we unveiled the statue of Mary Seacole, has grown ever more vicious and extreme. I have written about this before. Our country is bitterly divided. And three years later, I feel even more strongly that it is very, very bad for us all. We have a saying at the Mary Seacole Trust.
When times are difficult, we ask ourselves “What would Mary Seacole do?”
So, what would Mary Seacole do about where we are now with Brexit? Born in Jamaica, Mary was proud of her mixed heritage. Like many Jamaicans, she identified as British. Those who view Leave as the choice of patriots, might think she would have voted as they did.
After being turned down five times to volunteer with the British Army nursing team in the Crimean War, Mary paid to get there herself. She obtained the necessary permissions to nurse the wounded and dying on the frontline of the battlefield. She tended soldiers from both sides of the conflict. They called her Mother Seacole. Those who voted Remain, might think she would share their values.
As I look at the statue of Mary striding resolutely forwards into her future, I see her coat swirling around her strong, hardworking body. Her eyes, which mesmerize all who visit her, are clear and kind. Her mouth is gentle, yet firm. There are no signs of anger or judgement of others. Her purpose is to use her skills and resources to do good.
And I think that right now, Mary would be looking for what brings us together, rather than what differentiates us. I think she would remind us, that we all care about the future of our country. We all want to feel proud of the UK. We all care about our friends and our neighbours. We all want to be part of something greater than ourselves.
I think Mary would remind us of this and then ask us to stop what we are doing, and to seek common cause.
I think she would tell us that we have more in common than we are allowing ourselves to believe. And that whatever the decision about the nature of our future relationship with the European Union, those 27 countries are our near neighbours, and we will all do better to remain friends.
Finally, I think Mary would do what the trustees of the Mary Seacole Trust did earlier this month, and spend time listening to young people. In our case, the Youth Advisory Committee are too young to vote if there were to be a second referendum.
They have more right to be concerned about the future than we do because they are going to be living in it for much longer. For them, the things at the start of this blog are far more important than the seemingly never-ending Brexit debate. I think Mary would remind us to listen to young people and to focus on what matters.
That’s what I think Mary Seacole would do. I’d love to hear what YOU think!
Written by Lisa Rodrigues CBE
YAC - Youth Advisory Committee
YAC is a newly formed group which will be linked to our education strategy comprising of (L to R) Isabelle, Rio, Jude, Rio, Jayan and Kam. The YAC are from diverse backgrounds and have different educational experiences; state, public and grammar schooling. They are all progressing through their Duke of Edinburgh Awards, which is being supported by MST.
MST are providing them with a platform to support them in realising their potential. We have discussed a wide range of social topics, including the recent media exposure on serious youth violence. It remains refreshing to see and hear teenagers speaking about prominent issues, and the impact of these issues, within our diverse communities.
Our Youth Advisory Committee will have a voice
Their views on many of the social issues which affects them, will in turn, support MST with our future Education strategy.
The £50 Note Campaign
The campaign for an ethnic minority figure to appear on the new £50 note has received plenty attention, with recent encouragement given for Mary Seacole to be chosen for this prestigious honour.
Trevor Sterling has completed a number of recent interviews including being filmed for ITV News. This was in response to Helen Grant, the Conservative Member for Maidstone and The Weald, urging MPs to consider the choice, of who to portray on the new £50 note, as a “wonderful opportunity” to send a message about modern Britain.
Mrs Grant said the UK’s diverse communities had made a “seismic contribution” to the country, citing Mary Seacole, a British-Jamaican nurse who tended soldiers during the Crimean War alongside Florence Nightingale, as an example.
Mrs Grant added that including “a person of diversity on our banknotes” would be a “fundamental shift from a national stereotype”.
Martin Griffiths, appointed to represent the Queen
Lead trauma surgeon and MST Ambassador, Mr Martin Griffiths, has been commissioned by The Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE.
Martin is a consultant vascular and trauma surgeon at the Royal London Hospital and is well regarded for his inspiring and passionate work on violence and young people. For the past 15 years he has worked with a case support team to prevent injury. They work with victims to unravel the complex social reasons behind knife crime, offering holistic support to help prevent further harm.
MST Chair, Trevor Sterling says “we wish to extend our congratulations to Martin for this well-deserved appointment and we continue to be proud to call him an Ambassador of our Trust.”
The Lord-Lieutenant is Her Majesty’s Representative in a ceremonial county, who is charged with a number of responsibilities. Their role is to uphold the dignity of the Crown and to follow the example of The Queen by improving the well-being of Londoners.
Deputy Lieutenants are appointed by the Lord-Lieutenant, at his discretion, to assist him in his duties. As a Deputy Lieutenant, Martin will assist the Lord-Lieutenant in supporting the Royal Family, while promoting civic, commercial, voluntary and social activities within Greater London. He will help to connect individuals, organisations and social networks to enhance Londoners’ sense of belonging and increase social inclusion within the capital.
Dr Naqvi appointed as new MST Ambassador
Dr Habib Naqvi has a background in public health, and healthcare policy and strategy development. Habib is the Policy Lead for the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard at NHS England, and is leading on the national strategy for this programme.
Before joining NHS England in 2013, Habib worked on the development of national equality and diversity policy at the Department of Health. He led on the development of the Equality Delivery System for the NHS, the establishment of the NHS Equality and Diversity Council, and led on the health sector’s response to the Ministerial review of the Public Sector Equality Duty.
Habib currently sits on several national healthcare advisory groups, and also provides advice to the boards of a numerous public sector organisations. Habib has experience in academia and research; he is an occasional lecturer and holds a strong portfolio of healthcare research and publications.
Habib is the chair of the Knowle Cricket Club in Bristol. He is also a qualified cricket coach and provides coaching, mentoring and sponsorship to young children, particularly from deprived areas.
We extend thanks to the Mary Seacole Association (MSA). Our Trustees were privileged to attend their “Seacole Supper”, an annual event to commemorate the life of Mary Seacole and an opportunity for MSA to raise funds for the maintenance of Mary’s grave at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Green, West London.
We also attended the church service at the cemetery on 5th May 2019, which was to commemorate the anniversary of Mary’s death.
If you do visit Mary's Statue at St Thomas' Hospital, Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7EH, we would love to hear about your experience.