On Saturday 18th March 2017, I had the honour of being a speaker at the 4th Retired Caribbean Nurses’ Association (RCNA) Gathering. After my career in nursing and senior roles with the Royal College of Nursing, I found my natural home as a campaigner within political and public life. But I have always valued being a part of this great family of nurses and thoroughly enjoyed the event on Saturday. So much so that I was nearly tempted to stay the whole day! There was not an empty seat in sight; I only wish it were possible to bottle the pride, affection and respect that permeated the gathering.
The event was hosted by the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA); I would like to add my thanks to Maureen Roberts, Senior Development Officer of LMA for hosting the event and speaking of the excellent collections held at LMA. The theme of the day was ‘Maintaining the Legacy’ with venerated members, along with key note speakers reflecting on their journey and the importance of maintaining the legacy of the immense social, economic and cultural contribution that Caribbeans – especially Nurses – have made, and continue to make locally, nationally and globally.
The opening address was given by Gwen Gutzmore, Acting Chairwoman of RCNA. I was honoured to be on a programme of inspirational speakers including Ms Carole Lee-Lea representing the High Commission of Jamaica; Ms Darcy Legall Acting High Commissioner of Trinidad & Tobago and Mr Cenio E. Lewis, High Commissioner for Saint Vincent & the Grenadines. RCNA members Glenor Roberts and Evelyn Zamore also spoke, plus storyteller Sandra Agard. And proudly from St. Matthias RC Primary School in my London Borough of Hackney was Head-teacher Arlene Badu.
All-in-all each individual that stood on the podium filled me with pride and joy as they spoke about their inspirational journeys. A tasty lunch of Caribbean food and drink followed – accompanied by music, of course! It became increasingly difficult as the day progressed to tear myself away.
The purpose of the Retired Nurses’ Association is “to preserve the memory, testimonies and records of retired Caribbean nurses. The group’s intention is to use the lessons from the members’ experiences to recognise the Legacy of Caribbean Nurses’ contribution to the National Health Service (NHS), one that can be shared with our wider British society. This will be done through educational activities, through providing opportunities for friendship, companionship and support between retired and serving nurses as well as others.”
A case in point for this is the new RCNA’s Friendship Project, called the ElderFriends Social Network. The ElderFriend’s Network sounds perfect for those who either live alone or have little contact with family and friends. I have included a scan of the information leaflet about this fabulous new initiative. It sounds like a superb way to forge friendships through fortnightly visits or phone-calls, which undoubtedly lead to great new learning and experiences. I’m sure anyone who would like to get involved can contact the RCNA directly here. Personally, I can’t wait to hear more about its development.
In the wake of International Women’s Day, I feel emboldened when I attend events such as these and I know that together, we can #BeBoldForChange. I am full of pride at the achievements of the RCNA and fellow members, and wholeheartedly implore everyone to visit their shiny new website here. I give an awful lot of speeches and attend loads of event – so, I mean it when I say – the incredible positive and invigorating energy that was created on Saturday was wonderful. Very many congratulations to Beverley Davis & Glenor Roberts for co-facilitating such a successful event on behalf of the RCNA. And finally, I say to them all: “Stay Strong”- a phrase I borrow from Miss Maya Angelou – and something I cherish – as she said it to myself and friends when we had the honour of an audience with her many years ago.
Contact Information for RCNA:
c/o Black Women in the Arts
62, Beechwood Road,
London E8 3DY.
'Maintaining the Legacy': the 4th Retired Caribbean Nurses Association Gathering
The Retired Caribbean Nurses Gathering
Beverley Davis, of Black Women if the Arts & co-facilitor of RCNA event
Maureen Roberts, Senior Development Officer, London Metropolitan Archives (LMA)
Ms Glenor Roberts co-facilitator of RCNA and Mrs Evelyn Zamore member of RCNA & keynote speaker
Acting Chairwoman of RCNA Mrs Gwen Gutzmore
Arlene Badu, Headteacher St Matthias RC Primary school in Hackney & keynote speaker