Capital calendar finds space for Elsie Inglis day

A DAY is to be set aside on the Edinburgh calendar to celebrate the life of wartime heroine Elsie Inglis.

An annual celebration has been launched to support a campaign to raise the profile of the doctor dubbed "Edinburgh's Florence Nightingale".

Representatives from city history groups the One o'Clock Gun Association and the Scottish Veterans Association have set up the first event, to take place at the Dean Cemetery tomorrow, marking Dr Inglis' birth.

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They hope it will become an annual occasion and help a campaign by the Scottish Women's Hospital Committee (SWHC) to create a permanent statue for Dr Inglis in the city.

The service will include speeches on the memory of Dr Inglis, who was born in India but moved to Edinburgh as a child and went on to become one of the UK's first female doctors.

War veterans, doctors, nurses, pipers and buglers are to attend, as well as "Inglis babies" who were born in the now-closed Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital.

George Robinson, secretary of the One o'Clock Gun Association, said: "We've celebrated a lot of the male heroes of Edinburgh so it is good to get the chance to have one on a female.

"There's monuments all over the world to her so it is important to make sure she's remembered in her own city.

"She's Edinburgh's Florence Nightingale, that's how important she is.

"What she did during the war is worth paying tribute to in itself but she was also a very important woman for the whole feminist movement."

Ian McFarlane, chairman of the SWHC, is delighted that other groups are also taking action to ensure Dr Inglis' achievements are remembered in her home city. He said: "It is so important to try to push this forward and raise awareness of her as she was so important for women on the whole and in terms of Scottish history.

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"It's a great idea to have an event like this and it would be fantastic if it became an annual event. We've been involved in this for 20 years but anything that helps us promote a wider awareness would be wonderful."

The service, which will take place at 11am tomorrow, is to be taken by Scottish Veterans Association founder Rev Dr Bill Mackie and the chaplain of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Rev Sandy Young.

Dr Mackie said: "She deserves a lot more recognition and it would be nice if this helped the (statue) campaign.

"If it is a success we will be looking at having an annual event in her memory to mark the day she was born. If a memorial is created to her it would obviously be good to have the service at the memorial."

A 7ft Celtic cross marks the spot where Dr Inglis lies and staff at the Dean Cemetery have cleaned it ahead of the ceremony.

Neil Griffiths, a spokesman for the Royal British Legion Scotland, has called for a permanent memorial for Dr Inglis. He said: "We have statues in Edinburgh to people who are barely famous. This woman brought honour to Scotland and her city and she deserves to be recognised."

Renowned savious for servicemen

ELSIE INGLIS was born in India in 1864 but moved to Edinburgh as a child and became one of the few female doctors in the UK.

She set up the Scottish Women's Hospital (SWH) movement in 1914 and was renowned for her work throughout Europe during the First World War.

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The movement set up field hospitals in countries including France, Belgium, Serbia, Romania, Greece and Russia, and was credited with saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of servicemen.

Dr Inglis died in 1917 from cancer, and after the Second World War the SWH disbanded, with the remaining funds being used to build the now-closed Elsie Inglis Memorial Maternity Hospital near Abbeyhill in Edinburgh.

There is a small plaque honouring Dr Inglis fixed to St Giles' Cathedral on the Royal Mile, where she lay in state after she died. She then received a full military funeral and was buried in the Dean Cemetery.