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Centenary of death of British nurse Edith Cavell marked in special service at RD&E


The centenary of the execution of British nurse Edith Cavell was remembered in a special service on12th October at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, led by Dame Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton.


Bishop Sarah – a former nurse and chief nursing officer for England –led the service for patients and staff, using words specially written for the anniversary, during her first visit to the Trust.


Edith Cavell, the daughter of a priest, ran a nursing school in Belgium and as the Germans invaded she returned to be with the nurses she had trained, insisting that their calling was to care for all, friend and foe alike. She was arrested and shot by a German firing squad in 1915 for helping hundreds of Allied soldiers to escape. The night before her execution, she said: “Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”


Bishop Sarah said that the love and courage Edith Cavell showed was needed more than ever today, at a time when so many are fleeing suffering and conflict in many parts of the world.


“The love that Edith Cavell displayed in her life and in her death shows us that real love breaks down barriers of race or faith or wealth between people and can still bring people together.


“The response of people here to the refugee crisis shows that that generous love – which I believe, and Edith believed, comes from God – is still alive today.”


Bishop Sarah also praised the staff at the hospital for the way in which they continue to offer care without discrimination.

After the short service in the RD&E, Bishop Sarah spent some time with staff, patients and hospital chaplains.


Em Wilkinson Brice, Deputy Chief Executive/Chief Nurse at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We warmly welcome the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, Bishop of Crediton, on her first visit to the RD&E, and are very proud that she has chosen our chaplaincy centre to deliver this very special service. Edith’s story has such poignancy for all of us. She is an inspiration to nurses everywhere in providing compassionate and selfless care to those in need and I am delighted that we can mark the centenary in this way.” 


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