A public meeting was held in London at the end of 1855 to recognise the work of Florence Nightingale in the Crimea.
A large sum of money had been raised in her honour through public subscriptions, concerts and other fund-raising activities and soldiers who had fought in the war gave a day’s pay. The original plan had been to present Miss Nightingale with a gold or silver object as a token of thanks.
However, so great an amount of money had been raised that it was decided to set up a Fund for the training of nurses.
A committee was set up to administer The ‘Nightingale Fund’ with Sidney Herbert as Honorary Secretary and the Duke of Cambridge as Chairman.
By 1859, The Fund stood at £45,000 and Florence Nightingale used this to set up the nurses’ training school at St Thomas’s Hospital in London.
The first probationers arrived in July 1860.
The Nightingale Fund initially agreed to pay the following:
The Nightingale Fund Council and Florence herself were influential in the design of the new hospital on the Albert Embankment site which was opened on June 21st 1871.
To this day, the old-style wards in the hospital, many of which remain in use, are known as Nightingale wards.
Many Nightingale Fund trained nurses who left St Thomas’s went on to become matrons at other hospitals around the UK and abroad.
In this way the high standards and education of Miss Nightingale’s nurses soon spread.
Florence Nightingale also used The Fund during her lifetime to support a number of initiatives aimed at the improvement of nursing and nursing standards.
The British Journal of Nursing reported in 1914 that the original work of The Fund was completed and the Fund Council had decided to offer scholarships for the ‘further and fuller training’ of nurses. This continues to be the role of The Nightingale Fund to the present day.
Following Miss Nightingale’s death The Fund continued to be managed by a Council under a deed drawn up during her lifetime.
The Fund maintains its direct link with Florence Nightingale with members of the Verney and Bonham–Carter families acting as Trustees.