The Royal Mint presents Archbishop Tutu with Florence Nightingale coin at intimate evening service to celebrate her life and work

13 May 2010

The Royal Mint last night presented Archbishop Tutu with a £2 Gold Florence Nightingale coin following a special commemorative service at Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of the death of ‘The Lady with the Lamp’.

Dave Knight, Director of Commemorative Coins for The Royal Mint, said: "The Royal Mint is honoured to be able to share a piece of its craftsmanship with Archbishop Tutu. The Florence Nightingale coin was created to commemorate a strong and compassionate British historical figure whose work resonates in the deeds for which Archbishop Tutu is renowned."

Over 2,200 nursing staff gathered at the service to hear Nobel Prize-winning Archbishop Tutu praise the life and work of Florence Nightingale and thank those in the nursing profession for their endless dedication. Following the service, 50 attendees joined the Archbishop at a reception in the Jerusalem Chamber of the Abbey where Bryan K. Sanderson, Chairman of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, presented Archbishop Tutu with the £2 Gold Florence Nightingale coin.

The coin, designed by The Royal Mint’s Design Team Leader and Engraver, Gordon Summers, marks both the centenary of the death of Florence Nightingale and the 150th anniversary of the publication of her Notes on Nursing, celebrated in 2009. Archbishop Tutu’s gift is the first £2 Gold Florence Nightingale coin to be struck of a 1,000 limited edition coin. The design portrays a pulse being taken, whilst the background symbolises the rays of light from the lamp that Florence Nightingale was known for carrying during her rounds to tend to the wounded troops in the Crimean War. Created to celebrate nursing in general, the inscription, 1820 – FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE – 1910, along the coin’s edge, draws attention to the achievements of Florence Nightingale in particular.

The Florence Nightingale Service, organised by the Florence Nightingale Foundation, is held annually, with members of the nursing profession at all levels and from around the country attending every year. This was the first of the Foundation’s services at which Archbishop Tutu was guest speaker and provided the perfect platform for The Royal Mint to demonstrate its commitment to honouring remarkable figures in British history.

Mary Spinks, Director of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, said: "Archbishop Tutu’s work to advocate peace and reconciliation across the world is inspirational to those in the nursing profession. The giving of the Florence Nightingale coin is a wonderful gesture and we are truly delighted with The Royal Mint’s generosity."

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Notes to Editors

Background to Florence Nightingale

  • During the Crimean War Florence Nightingale astounded the world by taking a team of nurses to Constantinople to care for and comfort the ill and critically injured troops. She was relentless in harrying politicians for desperately needed supplies and through her ceaseless labour brought order and cleanliness to the Barrack Hospital at Scutari, becoming known as ‘The Lady with the Lamp’ as she tended the wounded at night

  • Throughout her life she campaigned zealously to improve health standards and was awarded the Royal Red Cross in 1883. In her old age she remained a tireless campaigner and received many honours becoming the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit

About The Royal Mint

  • The Royal Mint has a history dating back over 1000 years. By the late thirteenth century the organisation was based in the Tower of London, and remained there for over 500 years. By 1812, the Royal Mint had moved out of the Tower to premises on London’s Tower Hill. In 1967 the building of a new Royal Mint began on its current site in Llantrisant, South Wales

  • There were estimated to be 28.2 billion United Kingdom coins in circulation at 31 March 2009, with a total face value of £3.6 billion – all manufactured by the Royal Mint

  • 1.3 billion United Kingdom coins were issued during 2008-09

  • Of the higher denomination coins, it is the 20p piece that is most in demand – with more than 2.4 billion now in circulation.

Royal Mint contact details

  • For media enquiries, please contact the Royal Mint Press Office on 020 853 2390.