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HEIW's Matt Brayford leads iconic lamp procession through Westminster Abbey at Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service

Published Thursday 16 May 2024

Matt Brayford is honoured to be the first mental health nurse in history to have performed the prestigious role of ‘Lamp Escort’ at the Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service.

The Wales trained nurse and Programme Manager at Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) hopes his involvement in the iconic service will help to raise the profile of mental health nursing and encourage more mental health nurses to apply for Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) Scholarships, as well as the leadership development programmes offered by HEIW.

HEIW is a proud sponsor of the Florence Nightingale Foundation Leadership Scholarships.

Having recently completed the FNF Digital Leadership Scholarship, Matt was one of two Scholars selected by the Foundation to ‘escort the Lamp Carrier’ during the Service at Westminster Abbey on Wednesday 15 May 2024.

The Commemorative Service is hosted annually by FNF to celebrate Florence Nightingale’s legacy to the nursing profession, commemorate past nursing colleagues and show global appreciation for the commitment, work and dedication of nurses and midwives across the UK.

The historic lamp is carried through the Cathedral by a fellow FNF Scholar and placed on the alter to represent ‘the undying spirit of the service displayed by Florence Nightingale’. The Lamp Escorts follow, leading a procession of other esteemed Scholars of the Foundation, nurses and midwifes.

This prestigious tradition has been repeated each year since 1965 to signify the transfer of Florence Nightingale’s knowledge to future generations of nurses and midwives.

Matt Brayford said: “It was a real privilege to be asked to take part in the Commemoration Service and I’m really proud to represent mental health nursing.

“Working in homeless services led me to train as a mental health nurse. It’s such a fulfilling career. My experience on the FNF Digital Leadership Scholarship has enabled me to learn from other great nurses, challenge imposter syndrome and appreciate the value of my ideas.

“Each of us are experts in our area and can contribute towards improvement to services. We should never underestimate our value and the work we do.”

During his FNF Scholarship, Matt co-produced a Carer Education Programme for Psychosis with carers, mental health professionals from across Wales, and Improvement Cymru. The ‘guided self-help’ workbook is the first of its kind in the UK and is now being accessed by carers of people with psychosis across Wales.

Lisa Llewelyn, Director of Nurse and Health Professional Education at HEIW commented: “The annual Florence Nightingale Commemoration Service is an important day as we give thanks to our wonderful nursing and midwifery colleagues worldwide and celebrate how we continue Florence Nightingale’s legacy today, through the incredible commitment, dedication and care that we provide to others.

“Congratulations to Matt on becoming an FNF Scholar and being selected to be a member of the Florence Nightingale Lamp procession with other esteemed Scholars of the Foundation. We are extremely proud that Matt, a registered mental health nurse employed in NHS Wales has a key responsibility in this poignant international event.”