SHE is the nursing icon whose work is still recognised amid the coronavirus crisis, as historians mark her 200th birthday today.

Florence Nightingale's legacy has stood the test of time for her pioneering work during the Crimean War in the 1850s, where she tended soldiers’ wounds and strived to improve hospital conditions.

The trailblazer, who was born on May 12 1820, is still remembered for her work on keeping hospitals clean and free from infections, which has been echoed in hospitals across the UK in a bid to battle COVID-19.

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Florence stayed at Embley Park, East Wellow, after her return from the war. 

She was also a skilled mathematician and became the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society in 1858; her book, ‘Notes on Nursing’, is still in print today.

After her death in London in 1910, her body was brought by train back to Romsey and her coffin was carried from the station to the Church of St Margaret of Antioch, West Wellow, where she was buried.

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Now Test Valley residents have show their gratitude towards the Lady with the Lamp for modernising nursing, while stressing how "it is sad a special service could not be held for her", due to social distancing rules.

Chairman of the Wellow History Society, Tony Boyle, said: "When you look at the NHS it is really all centred on Florence Nightingale.

"When she came back from the Crimean war, she founded the Nightingale School and Home for Nurses at St Thomas' Hospital so she is really the founder of modern nursing.

"What I really like about Florence was she was very different to others because she wanted to do something good and that is why she wanted to become a nurse, as opposed to getting married.

"Florence was also really good at using pie charts to explain work, so it was great to see this at a time when women were not looked up to."

He added: "Florence came along, changed lives and she was a wonderful person."

Romsey Advertiser: Florence NightingaleFlorence Nightingale

Cllr Nick Adams-King, who represents Blackwater on the borough council, said: "I think what is really sad this year is St Margaret's church in Wellow always do a special service, where lots of senior nurses from around the area attend, and it is a shame that cannot go ahead.

"It is really sad they cannot commemorate her in the way they wanted to, because they had put an awful lot into it and I know there are people from all over the world who come to look at her grave."

Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Nick Adams-KingCllr Nick Adams-King

Cllr Dorothy Baverstock, who represents Romsey Cupernham on the borough council, said: "She had an amazing effect on nursing, because she just went out and did everything you hear about during the war.

"I feel very proud that Romsey and its surrounding area has got this connection with her and I think it will be a big bonus for Romsey Abbey when they get the stained glass window on Sunday, as it is a big tribute to her.

"I think a lot of children never realise we have such a brilliant lady who not only had a great carer, but is also buried in Wellow."

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Romsey Advertiser: Cllr Dorothy Baverstock Cllr Dorothy Baverstock

Cllr Janet Burnage, who represents Romsey Cupernham on the borough council, said: "We all know what a debt we owe to the nursing and caring professions in the current time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Today is the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, a woman who had forged a career in nursing at a time when women were expected to do little with their lives.

"It is through her foresight and determination that nurses are today highly skilled members of the medical profession that are so highly regarded by us all."