RCN centenary

RCN launches a year of celebration to mark its centenary

Nurses, healthcare professionals and policy makers gathered last night at the RCN's headquarters in London to launch the college's centenary year of celebrations.

Townswomen Guilds Banner Barney Newman

The college is holding a year-long programme of events to showcase its 100-year history and celebrate the progress nursing has made in the past century.

Opening the event, RCN president Cecilia Anim urged delegates to take part in forthcoming events, including the college’s centenary photography competition ‘to capture a snapshot of nursing in 2016’.

‘We want all of you to be part of it,’ she said.

‘The centenary year is a chance to reflect on 100 years of nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants.

'I would like to thank our past presidents who have played a pivotal role in the progression of our profession.

'By continuing to support and stand side by side with our members, we will continue to build our legacy that began with our founders 100 years ago.

'We will continue to progress our profession to improve patient care and continue to be a voice of nursing.’

Members of the Townswomen’s Guilds attended the event and unveiled a specially designed and crafted traditional marching banner that celebrates the two organisations and their shared history of campaigning for women’s rights. 

RCN general secretary Janet Davies spoke of how the RCN has helped shape women’s history, adding: ‘We have a really strong history, not only in the progression of nursing but in the empowerment of women.’

She said the college began as a women's organisation and that it was one of the first organisations to ‘make a difference’ for women, including the advancement of nursing registration.

Margaret Key, national chairman of the Townswomen’s Guilds, said: ‘Modern nursing is part of the fabric of our society and we are absolutely thrilled to be part of the RCN’s centenary celebrations.

'It’s been an honour to sew this wonderful marching banner that will be touring the country at various celebratory events throughout the year, and we look forward to charting its journey.’

Ms Davies was also presented with a picture of the nurse plant – a Norway spruce fir tree recognised for its medicinal properties – by Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh president Derek Bell.

Founded in 1916, the RCN was the first organisation to secure professional status for nurses.

Over the past century the RCN, which today has more than 430,000 members, has been campaigning for the development and progression of the nursing profession, as well as improved working terms and conditions.

Guests were given a private view of the new RCN exhibition, The Voice of Nursing: Celebrating 100 years of the RCN, which contains nursing memorabilia and documents spanning the century.

They also visited the new RCN Presidents exhibition, a display of portraits and information on the RCN presidents that have held the office during the past 100 years. 

Three past presidents – Andrea Spyropoulos, June Clark and Roswyn Hakesley-Brown – attended last night’s event, as well as chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings and Nursing and Midwifery Council director of continued practice Katerina Kolyva.

Ms Cummings told RCNi: ‘The exhibition is really good and it’s fantastic to see nursing history from 1916 to now. There’s wonderful pieces of equipment and I love the hospital badge exhibition.

‘The exhibition gives recognition of where we have come from. It identifies how we have developed, grown and progressed over the past 100 years and sets the scene for the next 100 years and the positive development for the wonderful profession. Nurses face loads of pressures and it’s nice to take time to celebrate the positives.’