Frenkel Topping has agreed to fund the maintenance of a London statue dedicated to the inspirational Jamaican/Scottish nurse Mary Seacole – the first bronze statue of a named black woman in the UK – for the next three years.
Seacole was well known at the time of her death in 1881, but soon faded from memory. She was almost lost to history until her grave was rediscovered in 1973.
The nurse travelled to the Crimea, self-funded, to care for soldiers during the terrible 19th Century war there. Unlike her celebrated peer Florence Nightingale, however, Seacole’s acts of bravery and kindness went almost unnoticed for almost a century after her death.
In 2004 Seacole was voted the greatest black Briton, leading to a 12-year fundraising campaign supported by individuals, corporations, the military and eventually government Libor funds. The funds themselves led to this magnificent London landmark, the work of sculptor Martin Jennings, which is situated in the grounds of St Thomas’s Hospital, opposite the Houses of Parliament. The statue celebrated its fifth anniversary in June.
Trevor Sterling, Chair of the Mary Seacole Trust, said: “We are delighted that Frenkel Topping have decided to support us in this way. The memorial became a major London attraction from the moment it was unveiled in 2016 and now stands as a symbol of the very best in our society. It points the way for the diverse society that we want and need to become. Mary’s qualities of compassion, determination and entrepreneurial endeavour are just as relevant today as they were in the 1850s. So long as the statue is maintained and available to the public, Mary will continue to inspire us and future generations.”
Mark Holt, Frenkel Topping Group COO, emphasised the relevance of the statue to his company’s own values: “We operate in a very specialist area of financial services, looking after people who’ve suffered life-changing injuries,” he explained. “The traits that the Mary Seacole Trust stands for – care, compassion and fairness – are at the heart of what we do, and we are delighted to support the statue and everything it has come to signify.
He continued: “We recognize that our sector is one of many in which there is work to be done to achieve real equality, diversity and inclusion. We want to be a driver of that change and will work with Trevor and the other trustees to raise awareness and implement change.”
The cost of maintaining the statue is estimated to be around £1,000-per-year.