Hospital Lane, Ravenstone
Leicestershire LE67 2AJ

Green plaque to honour Crimean war nurse

27 September 2018

An article was published by Leicestershire County Council on Monday 24 September 2018, which is summarised below. The plaque was unveiled on Thursday 27 September 2018.

A Crimean War nurse from Ravenstone was honoured with a green plaque.

The plaque for Ann Ayre Hely was installed at Ravenstone Hospital Almshouses, on Hospital Lane on Thursday, 27 September, at the place where she spent her final years. After the death of her husband, Ann answered a call for nurses to work in Turkey, caring for the sick and wounded soldiers of the Crimean War. She travelled first to the Smyrna hospital and then transferred to the purpose-built Renkioi Hospital, where she remained until the end of the war. (She later nursed Florence Nightingale for a short period of time.)

In December 1897, Ann was awarded the order of the Royal Red Cross, an honour bestowed on nurses who had served in the armed forces. Too frail at the age of 78 to travel to Windsor Castle to be invested by Queen Victoria herself, she received the award at Ravenstone Hospital, with the event attracting national media attention. Dr Wendy Freer, founder of heritage group Pudding Bag Productions, who nominated Ann for the green plaque, said: “Ann was a local woman, born to an ordinary village family, who went on to achieve remarkable things. At the time of her award in 1897, it was felt to have been a great honour bestowed, not only on her, but on Ravenstone. Such a remarkable woman deserves continuing recognition and I am delighted that Ann has been chosen to receive this award.”

Ann Ayre Hely was an enormously popular choice among the people of Leicestershire to receive a green plaque. Councillor Louise Richardson, cabinet member for green plaques, said: “It is fitting that we acknowledge Ann’s incredible achievements by creating a lasting reminder for the people of Ravenstone of the inspirational woman who once lived in their community”

Wendy Freer has also published a book “Ann Ayre Hely: A Crimean War Nurse from Ravenstone, Leicestershire.” Wendy also helped produce a film, which can be found on YouTube, about the life and work of Ann Ayre Hely.