Elsie Inglis finally has a fitting memorial

James Blackburn, front, and Alan Cumming at the restored gravestone. Picture: Greg Macvean

James Blackburn, front, and Alan Cumming at the restored gravestone. Picture: Greg Macvean

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WORK to restore a dilapidated gravestone in memory of Edinburgh’s most famous daughter has been completed.

The restoration of Elsie Inglis’s headstone within the grounds of Dean Cemetery was carried out after an Evening News pressure campaign ­highlighted the shocking state of the tombstone.

The pioneering doctor and suffragette may have been named the city’s second greatest citizen behind Olympian Eric Liddell in an Evening News poll, but that fact did nothing to stop her last resting place from succumbing to the passage of time.

The heroine’s name and a citation listing her achievements had completely worn away – leaving her grave unmarked.

But staff from Scotmid Co-operative Funeral Directors have just unveiled the restored look following painstaking work they carried out for free.

James Blackburn, Head of Scotmid Co-operative Funeral Directors, said: “We are delighted that the restoration of Elsie Inglis’s headstone is now complete and is once again a fitting memorial to this true pioneer.

“We have cleaned the memorial and repainted the lettering so that people can now read about Elsie, her life and her many achievements.

“Many people in Edinburgh have connections with Elsie Inglis that they may not be aware of, and we hope that this will encourage people to find out more about her important contribution to our city and country.”

In the First World War, Inglis made sure that the injured and the dying received the basic medical care they would otherwise have been left ­without.

Tens of thousands were helped by field hospitals she set up in Serbia, Ukraine and Romania, acting with the ­support of the French and ­Serbian governments.

Inglis’ heroism, said Winston Churchill, would “shine forever in history”, while in Serbia she is a national hero.

She established the George Square Nursing Home which merged with the Bruntsfield Hospital to provide a women’s health service in the city for the first time.

She was also a tireless ­campaigner for womens’ rights.

Earlier this week, Edinburgh West MP Mike Crockart said he hoped her achievements would be commemorated with a ­lasting monument.

Alan Cumming, who runs the Scottish Women’s Hospitals website dedicated to the work of Inglis and her fellow female medics, said: “We’re completely and utterly over the moon. I was left with a sense of great sadness at the state of the grave.”

He said the new look was “fantastic” and added: “It’s a significant improvement and means her memory will be preserved for future generations.”.

dawn.morrison@edinburghnews.com