Friday, 11 February 2011

Bring a Badge Day - 10th February, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

As part of the Unsung Heroes project, LHSA took part in 'Bring a Badge Day' held at the Sanctuary in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Little France on Thursday 10th February.

Nurses and ex-nurses were invited to come along, bringing their nursing badges to show project staff and eca (Edinburgh College of Art) students.  LHSA provided a small display of nursing badges, a selection of Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh photographs, and showed the "Ever Open Door", a silent film made by the Infirmary in the 1930s promoting the hospital, its services and new departments. 

A representative from the Royal College of Nursing was also present with a fantastic display of badges from their 3,000-strong collection.  Also present were staff from the eca, who described to the various visitors how their badges were made and designed.

There was a good turnout, including a number of 'Pelicans', nurses who trained at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and received their pelican badge on completion of their training and one year of service.

The pelican was chosen to represent the charity and self-sacrifice of nurses, pelicans being known to feed their young from their own blood.  What came across from chatting to the pelicans was how special their badges were to them as a symbol of the hard work put in to their training and the dedication required.  They proudly wore their badges throughout their careers, and treasure them after they have retired.  One ex-nurse said that being a pelican was like being in a club, where ever you went across the world, (and many went on to work all over the globe), you'd bump into other pelicans and they were like old friends, even if you hadn't previously known them. 

We also heard some great stories about life as a nurse, living in the Infirmary nurses home.  From toga parties using hospital sheets as costumes, to nurse's boyfriend's sneaking in fish and chips for patients via ward windows!  Part of the Unsung Heroes project is to record these memories so that they can be saved for the enjoyment of future generations.

For more information about the project, visit their blog.

To view a slideshow of a selection of LHSA's enamelled badges, visit flickr.


  1. A few of us aretrying to trace any nurses from the 1963 September PTS Royal Infirmary Edinburgh for a re-union this September in Edinburgh!! If interested please contact Elspeth 07746986377. Thankyou.

  2. anyone from the july 1979 set, great to get together. Contact Kareen 07968323366

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