Norfolk

World War I heroine Edith Cavell charity aims to raise £3m

Edith Cavell's memorial parade Image copyright Arthur Menzies
Image caption Australian soldier Arthur Menzies photographed Edith Cavell's coffin outside Westminster Abbey - his family donated the picture to the Cavell Memorabilia Collection

A charity set up in memory of Norfolk World War I heroine Edith Cavell is aiming to raise £3m by the 100th anniversary of her death.

The Swardeston-born nurse helped more than 200 allied soldiers to escape from German-occupied Belgium before being shot by firing squad in 1915.

The Cavell Nurses' Trust was set up two years later.

Today the charity supports retired and working nurses and midwives who have fallen on hard times.

During 2012 the number of requests for help doubled, and by the the 100th anniversary of Edith Cavell's death in 2015 the trust wants to double the number of beneficiaries from 1,000 to 2,000.

Helen Wade, from Norwich, is one of 22 nurses from Norfolk that been helped by the trust in the last year.

She had to give up nursing after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and the charity was able to provide her with a specialised wheelchair.

She said: "The team demonstrated a great deal of compassion for my situation; it meant a lot to me that my commitment to nursing has been rewarded and acknowledged by the support and care that Cavell Nurses' Trust have given.

"It is nice that I am able to receive good care myself when I need it after giving years of care to others during my nursing career."

Edith Cavell's remains were brought back to Britain after the war, and she had a memorial service in Westminster Abbey on 15 May 1919.

A photograph of her coffin outside the Abbey was taken by Australian soldier Arthur Menzies, whose family has donated the picture to the Cavell Memorabilia Collection.

Her coffin was then taken back to Norwich and her remains interred in Norwich Cathedral.

Nick Miller, keeper of the Cavell memorabilia, said: "Her coffin was taken through packed silent streets to Liverpool Street and thence by train to Norwich with people lining the track all the way up.

"People who were schoolchildren at the time remember being taken to see the train go by.

"Her remains were interred at the east end of Norwich Cathedral in keeping with her family's wishes."

East Anglian Film Archive has film of the procession of Cavell's coffin through the streets of Norwich.

On Sunday 6 January at 13:00 GMT BBC Radio Norfolk tells the story of First World War nurse Edith Cavell.

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