Rebecca Thorogood Strong

23 August 1843 - 24 April 1944

Hospital Matron & Pioneer of Nurse Training

Rebecca Thorogood Strong was born on 23 August 1843, in Aldgate, East London, where her father was the proprietor of the Blue Boar Inn. She married young and had one daughter before she was 20. Little is known about her husband other than his name, Strong, that he died within a couple of years of their marriage, and was buried in Liverpool. She was widowed within a couple of years of her marriage and decided to take up nursing. She was aware of the work of Florence Nightingale and applied to the Nightingale Training School, which had started in 1860 at St Thomas' Hospital, and was accepted as a probationer, starting her training in 1867, at the age of 23. In 1879 she became a matron at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, intervening regularly to ensure that the nurses were given sufficient rest.

In January 1884, Mrs Strong reported that a new nurses’ home was a necessity. Believing that her health could not stand another year in the post, in June 1885, she gave three months’ notice and left the Infirmary in October. Mrs Strong then opened a private nurs­ing home in Glasgow.

In 1909, she founded the Scottish Nurses' Association, the objective being to work for a single system of state registration for nurses in the whole country.

In 1926 Mrs Strong became involved in setting up the British College of Nurses, an academic institution founded by Mrs Bedford Fenwick to provide nurses with a postgraduate college.

In 1930, she moved to Edinburgh where she lived until 1939. Her friends and admirers were anxious that she should be appointed an OBE and several times petitioned on her behalf until she was made OBE in 1938.

Mrs Strong's outstanding characteristics were her spirit and vision. She was a strong supporter of women's suffrage and of equality in education, believing that intelli­gent women who lived unproductive lives were wasting their talents.

Mrs Strong passed away on 24 April 1944, in Chester at the age of 100.

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