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WW1 hero nurses Edith Cavell and Minnie Wood named for high-tech Salford health centre

A new Salford health training centre will be named after two English war hero nurses: Edith Cavell and Sister Minnie Wood.

The suites at Salford University’s Mary Seacole Building are mocked up to look like real hospital wards.

Remotely-controlled dummies with realistic health conditions serve for patients as students in nursing, midwifery and counselling are tested in the live environment.

The official new name for the centre will be revealed in a special ceremony on Thursday 12 May – marked around the world as International Nurses’ Day.

Both Edith Cavell and Sister Minnie Wood had strong links with Salford.

In the mid 1900s Cavell worked as a nurse at the Manchester and Salford Sick, Poor and Private Nursing Institute.

She regularly attended Sacred Trinity Church on Chapel Street in Salford to worship.

In 1907 she moved to Belgium to set up an institute for training nurses and she was still there when World War One broke out.

This quiet Victorian nurse then became a resistance worker.

When two wounded English soldiers arrived at the institute Edith treated them, but realised when they were well enough to be discharged she would have to hand them over to the Germans.

Instead she handed them to a network of resistance workers, who helped them to get to neutral Holland.

Before long the Germans discovered what she was doing, she was arrested and sentenced to death.

A memorial has been erected at Sacred Trinity Church in her honour and can be seen outside the main door of the Salford church.

Sister Wood, who trained in Salford, ran a field hospital throughout the war, serving next to the front line in France and Belgium, and then in Germany following the Armistice.

She was mentioned in dispatches, following an incident in which the hospital itself was shelled, with one passage reading ‘this lady never lost her nerve for a moment and during the whole of the trying day, carried out her duties with the greatest steadiness and coolness’.

Her efforts won her the honour of the Royal Red Cross for gallantry in the field, as well as an OBE in June 1919.

The naming event will feature talks by Diana Souhami, who wrote a biography of Edith Cavell, and Dr Claire Chatterton of the Open University, who is chair of the Royal College of Nursing’s History of Nursing Society.

A panel of experts will also debate the role of courage in modern health care, inside and out of the military setting.

Brian Boag, interim Dean of the University’s School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences, said: “Minnie Wood and Edith Cavell were both incredibly important figures who risked everything to help others – and in the case of Edith Cavell, paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“It seemed fitting that our new training facility should pay tribute to their courage and sacrifice and that their stories can serve as inspiration for a new generation of men and women following in their footsteps into the nursing profession, which is every bit as important now as it was a century ago.”

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Tom is SalfordOnline.com's News Editor and community co-ordinator.