On November 25th, our speaker Laton Frewen gave a detailed and dramatic account of the life and achievements of Edith Cavell. A vicar’s daughter born in Norfolk in 1865, Edith was taught to share with those less fortunate than herself. She was a talented artist and became a governess who worked for 5 years with a Belgian family, before returning home to nurse her father. Aged 30, she decided to train as a nurse and was accepted at the London Hospital in Whitechapel. In 1897, she was sent to Maidstone to help with a major typhoid epidemic and was awarded a medal for her good work. She worked in various English hospitals and in 1907 was offered the position of matron in a newly established nursing school in Brussels. Such was her success that the Queen of Belgium requested one of Edith’s nurses to treat her broken arm. After the First World War War broke out, Belgium was occupied by the German army and her clinic and nursing school were taken over by the Red Cross. She hid 2 British soldiers, tended their wounds and arranged their repatriation. Many others were helped in this way and an underground lifeline to neutral territory was established with a group of brave Belgians. In August 1915, betrayed by a collaborator, Edith was arrested [with others in the group] and imprisoned. In October 1915, she was put on trial and sentenced to death. That night, she told the Anglican chaplain,”Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.” Despite appeals on her behalf, she was executed by firing squad the next day. Her story was used for propaganda purposes. She was an inspiration for thousands and her memory is still commemorated in many countries around the world. After the war, her body was brought back by train to lay in state in Westminster Abbey before being buried at Norfolk Cathedral. The carriage which transported her body has been fully restored and can be seen at Bodiam Station.
Thanking Mr Frewen, Thyra Ogden said that words were inadequate to follow such an inspirational presentation. Visitors and new members to the club are always welcome. For further information please call 01424 843337
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