Plaque Unveiled in Honour of District Nursing Founder

November 9, 2023

Professional Head of Community Nursing, Nancy Farr, was invited to unveil a plaque in honour of Elizabeth Malleson, pioneer and founding member of the Rural District Nursing Association.

The plaque was installed at Gotherington Parish Hall following research by the Local History Society. Elizabeth had lived at nearby Dixton Manor. She was born in1828 and was an educationalist, suffragist and activist for women’s education and rural nursing.

Although born in London she moved to Gloucestershire in 1884 and was concerned to find that there was little local service of nurses for pregnant women. Malleson arranged for a trained nurse to be available to serve the people of Gotherington.  Malleson’s scheme was not the first but she decided to form a national organisation and her appeal for help brought her into contact with Lady Lucy Hicks-Beech. They gathered enough support to launch a Rural Nursing Assocation and supplied District Nurses to villages across England.

Malleson’s nurses became the Rural Nursing Division of the Queen’s Nursing Institute in 1891 and Malleson became the organisation’s secretary.

Nancy said: “I was fascinated to learn that Gloucestershire was among the first to start a rural district nursing association and Elizabeth received a grant from the golden jubilee fund (Queen Victoria’s) to set up the association. The society have evidence of communications to Florence Nightingale who was setting up the Queens Nursing Institute to train DN’s in Liverpool at the same time.

“The parish council were friendly and had everything well organised including a cake to be cut following the unveiling of the plaque because the 29 October was Elizabeth’s birthday (195 yrs)

“It was an honour and a pleasure to be asked to unveil the plaque and to learn more about a pioneer of district nursing; In Elizabeth’s day there was one district nurse now we have 5 large locality teams led by District nurses many of whom hold the Queens Nurse title, that is surely testament to the community model of care.”

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