[Many thanks to Veerle Poupeye and Mary Ann Gosser for bringing this item to our attention.] Serina Sandhu writes about a call to use the image of Mary Seacole on a new £50 note. Seacole was a Jamaican-born nurse who helped British soldiers during the Crimean War. Her story was immortalized in her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands. Sandhu reports:
Two Labour MPs have voiced their support for putting the face of British nurse Mary Seacole on the new £50 note. If she was selected, it would be the first time a black person has featured on a banknote in Britain. Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North, tweeted that the upcoming polymer version of the fifty – which was announced by the Bank of England on Saturday – “would be a great way to recognise and celebrate the life of Mary Seacole, who was voted the greatest black Briton.”
Nurse during the Crimean
War Seacole, who died in 1881, was born in Jamaica. She is best known for helping soldiers during the Crimean War of the 1850s. In 1854, Seacole asked Britain’s War Office to be sent as a nurse to the conflict but her request was denied. Undeterred, she travelled to the eastern European peninsular and set up the British Hotel near the former city of Balaklava to help injured officers. Seacole was praised for her achievements in the face of racial tensions when she returned to the UK and years later in 2004, she was voted the greatest Black Briton in a poll. Streeting, who also suggested Nelson Mandela as contender for the £50 note, told the Daily Telegraph that Seacole’s “achievements are too often overlooked in history and yet what she did for soldiers in the Crimean War was an act of great heroism”.
Shadow secretary for Women and Equalities Dawn Butler called it a “fantastic idea”. The Bank of England has announced it will be redesigning the £50 note in plastic material polymer. The polymer versions of the £5 and £10 notes have already been issued and the updated £20 note will be released in 2020. [. . .]