Two-week celebration of medical trailblazer Elsie Inglis to be held in Edinburgh for statue appeal

She is the Scottish medical trailblazer, war-time heroine and leading figure in the women’s suffrage movement.

Srailblazing doctor and surgeon Elsie Inglis will be honoured with a new statue in Edinburgh if an ongoing campaign is successul.

But only now is the trailblazing doctor and surgeon Elsie Inglis on the verge of being fully recognised in her home city.

Plans for a two-week celebration in Edinburgh of her life and legacy are in Edinburgh have been unveiled as part of a drive to raise funding for a long-awaited statue.

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A campaign to honour the founder of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals service, who was famously rejected by the British War Office when over her suggestion of medical units staffed by women, was launched five years ago to coincide with the centenerary of her death.

Mothers and children demonstrate outside the Elsie Inglis Memorial hospital in Edinburgh on the last day before it closes in October 1988. Picture: Denis Straughan

Spearheaded by the Edinburgh branch of the Girlguiding movement, the statue campaign won the crucial back of the city’s Lord Provost, Frank Ross, and all-party support within the city council, in November.

It is hoped £50,000 will be raised from the forthcoming fundraising programme to pay for a statue of Dr Inglis - whose organisation was responsible for sending 14 medical teams to war zones across Europe - to designed and erected on the Royal Mile.

Among those appearing will be BBC health editor Hugh Pym, historian Alastair Bruce, the governor of Edinburgh Castle and a Downtown Abbey adviser, Sara Sheridan, author of the book Where Are The Women? which highlights the stories of women "sidelined" from Scottish history, award-winning film and TV producer Iram Qureshi and Linda Bauld, professor of public health at Edinburgh University, who has won widespread praise for her advice during the pandemic.

Broadcaster Kirsty Wark, tennis coach Judy Murray, actress Gerda Stevenson and kiltmaker Deirdre Kinloch Anderson are also backing a £50,000 appeal, which is being supported by the businesses Mercat Tours and Edinburgh Gin.

Linda Bauld is a professor of public health at Edinburgh University and the Scottish Government's chief social policy adviser. Picture: Andrew Milligan

Highlights of the programme of fundraising events, which will run from 27 February-13 March, include an exhibition of Scottish Women’s Hospitals memorabilia at St Giles’ Cathedral, where Dr Inglis' funeral service was staged in 1917, a mass Girlguiding gathering on the Meadows and a series of afternoon tea events talks in the City Chambers.

A walking tour around the city will highlight the achievement of Dr Inglis and the "Edinburgh Seven" campaigners, the first female students to go to university in the UK.

A gala fundraising dinner at the city centre restaurant Dine and an International Women's Day event at the city’s French Institute, hosted by Consul Laurence Pais are also being held.

Thea Laurie, co-founder of the Statue for Elsie Campaign, said: "It has caught the imagination of, not just the women of Edinburgh, but the people of Edinburgh.

Sara Sheridan PIC: Aleksandra Modrzejewska

“We’re excited at the thought that the legendary and inspiring suffragist doctor, philanthropist and founder of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals will be remembered forever.

“Young people from all across Edinburgh are hearing her name and learning her story for the first time and asking for a statue for a woman.”

Girlguiding Edinburgh spokeswoman Susan Brown said: “The statue will provide a focal point for young women around Edinburgh to motivate them to learn more about this wonderful lady.

“We empower girls to learn about the world, form their own viewpoints, to speak out for the change they want to see and to fight for the key issues they care about, just as Elsie would have done.”

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