Bedford’s Retired Caribbean Nurses celebrate fifth bi-annual gathering this March

Retired Caribbean Nurses’ Association

A group dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Caribbean nurses who came to Bedford during the Windrush era is holding its fifth bi-annual gathering in Kempston this March.

Bedford’s Retired Caribbean Nurses Association (RCNA) will be celebrating at Kempston’s Addison Centre on Wednesday, 6 March as part of a three-year ‘Shared History’ project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in collaboration with The Higgins Bedford, Goldington Green Academy and the University of Bedfordshire’s Faculty of Nursing.

The group, which was formed in 2012, represents the legacy of the Caribbean nurses who – in the main – came to Bedford in the Windrush era (1948 – 1971).

From 1948 onwards, thousands of people from the Commonwealth were invited by the British government to come to England and be trained as nurses, to fill the vacancies within the newly established NHS.

The inspiration for the group came after Cynthia Stuart, and the other founding members, discovered that there was no record or archive of the Caribbean nurses’ arrival in Bedford.

Nurses’ Journey/The Heritage

This year’s event theme is ‘Nurses’ Journey/The Heritage’ and a highlight will be an interview with nursing pioneer, Dame Elizabeth Anionwu who created the Mary Seacole Centre for Nursing Practice at the University of West London.

There will also be a discussion with PBIC Bedford about their work between the Higgins Museum and the Polish community of Bedford.

“The project has been an enjoyable experience and it has been good to reflect on our experiences as Nurses,” said Cynthia Stuart, chair of RCNA (Bedford).

“There was no information or record of Caribbean Nurses in Bedford before this project,” said RCNA member, Jackie Pearce.

“We are leaving a legacy.”

“It was important to take our histories and write them down,” explained another committee member. “Because we did this, there will be a more honest reflection on our history for generations to come.”

Tickets to the event on Wednesday 6 March are £20 and include Caribbean-style food for lunch. Everyone is welcome. It will run between 10.30am and 3.30pm.

To book tickets contact

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