Crimean nurse tops poll of greatest black Britons
A NURSE who comforted dying soldiers during the Crimean war was yesterday named the greatest black Briton after a three-month survey to celebrate the UK’s black heritage.
The work of Mary Seacole has been overshadowed in the history books by her contemporary, Florence Nightingale. But yesterday, she topped the list of 100 prominent black figures which polled more than 100,000 people.
The survey was in response to the BBC’s Great Britons debate,, which did not feature any black people in the top 100.
The organiser of the poll, Patrick Vernon, the founder of the black heritage website Every Generation, said: "The success of the campaign highlights the fact that black history in Britain is intertwined with British history."
Also in the top ten were the singer Dame Shirley Bassey, the newsreader Sir Trevor McDonald and the jazz musician Courtney Pine.
Sylvia Denton, the president of the Royal College of Nursing, said Ms Seacole’s success was "wonderful news" and called for a statue to be put up in London in her honour.
She added: "Against all odds, Mary had an unshakeable belief in the power of nursing to make a difference."
Ms Seacole travelled to the Crimea on her own after the government rejected her offer of help. She opened her British Hotel in 1855, and was later awarded a Crimean medal for her work.
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