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Windrush Generation nurse honoured with blue plaque

PIONEERING NURSE: Daphne Steele came over the the UK from Guyana to help build the NHS

A NURSE and midwife who became the first black matron in Britain has been honoured with a blue plaque.

Daphne Steele came to the UK from Guyana during the 1950s as part of the cohort of nurses from the Caribbean who came to build the NHS.

The blue plaque was unveiled by Steele’s son, Robert, at the site which used to be the St James’ hospital in Balham, south London.

The location, St James’ hospital, is where Steele first trained when she came to the UK.

Steele, who died in 2004, was one of the black nursing pioneers in the UK. Her achievements paved the way for the next generation of black nurses.

The Nubian Jak Community Trust, an African and Caribbean community organisation, the Association of Guyanese Nurses and Allied Professionals (AGNAP) and the London and Quadrant Housing Association worked together to organise the plaque.

The blue plaque, was unveiled on October 16, what would have been Steele’s 91st birthday.

Jak Beula, chief executive of the Nubian Jak Community Trust told Nursing Times: “As a nursing pioneer, it is right and befitting that she is memorialised with a blue plaque and given the national recognition she deserves as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations commemorating the birth of the NHS.”

Thelma Lewis, president of AGNAP, told Nursing Times that Steele, who was vice president of the organisation, dedicated her life to nursing.

“Daphne knew only love – love for the profession in which she spent her entire life and to which she gave so much,” she said.

“On becoming Britain’s first Black matron she set new goals for her fellow Windrush nurses and those who followed,” Lewis added.

London's blue plaques recognise notable men and women at the site of the buildings in which they have lived in or worked in.

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