Wednesday, June 04, 2008

‘Deed, ye’re no doctor; ye’re just a wumman.’

A story that caught my eye today was this one:

It initially intrigued me because I wondered why "Scotland's Florence Nightingale" was being honoured all the way over in France. I was delighted to find a wonderful story about a woman who seems to have been not only intelligent and innovative, but also warm and humourous. She was an advocate for women's rights from a young age establishing the first female-run maternity hospital in Scotland, and helping to found the Scottish Women's Suffrage Federation. She also did much to improve the welfare of soldiers and availability of care for them in the war.

Elsie was undeterred by opposition from the War Office, who told her to stay home and knit, and despatched two units of the Scottish Women's Hospitals to France. Within months of the war breaking out, her Abbaye de Royaumont hospital, containing some 200 beds, was in place.

My blog entry title comes from a story told here:

Her next bit of experience was in a well-known hospital in Dublin, the Rotunda. From that she wrote to her father humorous accounts of quaint Irish ways and words. When an old woman, having sent for a doctor, was faced by Dr. Inglis, she said, ‘Deed, ye’re no doctor; ye’re just a wumman.’

Reading about Elsie Inglis was a delight. She was not militant, and yet achieved so much for the things she believed in. She seems to have been a wonderful, caring and warm woman who pushed herself to her limits. Even while held captive in Serbia she was able to see beauty, writing: "Never shall we forget the beauty of the sunrises, and the glory of the sunsets, with cool clear sunlit days between, and wonderful starlit nights."

A fine role model.

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