The History of the British Red Cross

 

Categories: Collect
 

This year is a true milestone year for one of Britain’s most celebrated humanitarian organisations, as 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the British Red Cross. With a century and a half of humanitarian history empowering every volunteer, few UK institutions can boast the success, longevity and national renown of the British Red Cross.

  • 1

    1859

    Shocked by the horrors of war witnessed first-hand during the Battle of Solferino, Swiss businessman Henry Dunant looks to inspire change by writing A Memory of Solferino. The book championed the formation of national voluntary relief organisations to provide impartial aid to wounded soldiers in war. The publication would go on to inspire the Red Cross Movement.

  • 1

    1863

    Henry Dunant sets up the ‘Committee of Five’, aiming to explore the feasibility of his voluntary relief concept. The board is quickly renamed the ‘International Committee for Relief to the Wounded’ which would later become ‘International Committee of the Red Cross’. The founding charter of the Red Cross was drawn up at an international conference held later that year.

  • 1

    1870

    The British Red Cross officially comes to be with Queen Victoria as its patron. Later that same year, the British Red Cross arranges its first humanitarian deployment in the Franco-Prussian War.

  • 1908

    The first Royal Charter is granted by Edward VII, establishing principles that remain in use by the British Red Cross to this day.

  • 1

    1914–18

    War is declared. Over the next four years, 90,000 people will volunteer for the British Red Cross as VADs, doing everything from nursing and air raid duty to searching for missing people and transporting the wounded.

  • 1

    1926

    The British Red Cross takes control of the Greater London Blood Transfusion Service, which would become the National Blood Transfusion Service. The British Red Cross would remain the primary operative of this service until the 1980s.

  • 1

    1939-45

    The Second World War is declared. The British Red Cross teams up with the Order of St John to form the Joint War Organisation in an effort to co-ordinate wartime relief. Volunteers provide relief to civilians overseas as well as those affected in the UK.

  • 1

    1948

    The National Health Service (NHS) launches. The British Red Cross plays a significant role in supporting the new NHS, providing a range of health and social care services.

  • 1

    1956

    During the Hungarian uprising, the British Red Cross arranges the transportation, reception, accommodation and welfare of 7,500 Hungarian refugees coming to the UK.

  • 1

    1976

    The British Red Cross helps more than 100,000 Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong through refugee camps run by the charity. Around 19,000 of those would eventually resettle in the UK with the help of the British Red Cross.

  • 1

    1984

    Ethiopia is hit with the worst famine in over a century. The British Red Cross sends life-saving food supplies, aid and funds to assist in the crisis. The British Red Cross launched the Ethiopia Appeal and raised more than £1.7 million.

  • 1

    1993

    Following the outbreak of war, the British Red Cross organises a £1.5 million food parcel distribution programme to assist in war-torn Central Bosnia. The British Red Cross set up reception centres for the 1,000 Bosnian refugees that would enter the UK.

  • 1

    1998

    The Royal Mint releases a commemorative 50p coin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the NHS. The strong ties between the NHS and the British Red Cross continue to this day with British Red Cross services directly supporting the efforts of the NHS.

  • 2007

    The British Red Cross provides food, blankets, hot drinks and access to doctors and counsellors to victims of the devastating floods in the UK.

  • 1

    2010

    The Royal Mint releases a limited-edition range of commemorative £2 coins celebrating Florence Nightingale – an inspirational figure that directly influenced the setting-up of the British Red Cross. Designed by The Royal Mint’s Chief Engraver Gordon Summers, the coin features a pair of hands taking a pulse, complete with a sunburst backdrop symbolising Nightingale’s trademark lamp.

  • 1

    2015

    The iconic Red Cross nurse Edith Cavell, who lost her life in the First World War, is honoured with a commemorative £5 coin. A British nurse working in German-occupied Belgium, Cavell saved the lives of soldiers from both sides of the war.

  • 1

    2017

    British Red Cross volunteers provide support to victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. That same year, the British Red Cross also provides practical and emotional support to those affected by the Manchester Arena bombing.

  • 1

    2020

    The British Red Cross Covid-19 response is set up to support people in the UK and around the world in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • 1

    2020

    The British Red Cross is honoured for the very first time on a British UK coin. Exclusive new artwork is created by experienced designer Henry Gray, celebrating the British Red Cross and 150 years of ‘The Power of Kindness’.

 

Shop British Red Cross Coins

Comments

Read more stories from The Royal Mint

Feefo logo