Scottish Parliament room honour for Elsie Inglis

The Scottish Parliament. Picture: TSPL
The Scottish Parliament. Picture: TSPL
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First World War heroine Elsie Inglis could be honoured by having a room named after her in the Scottish Parliament.

The pioneering Edinburgh doctor, who helped save thousands of lives by setting up medical units near the battle front during the 1914-18 conflict, was also a strong advocate of women’s rights, and a leading member of the suffragette movement in Scotland.

Medical pioneer Elsie Inglis

Medical pioneer Elsie Inglis

But it often said she is honoured more abroad than at home. And two years ago the Evening News had to campaign for her headstone in Dean Cemetery – which had become almost illegible – to be restored.

Now her name is to be proposed for one of the meeting rooms in the Scottish Parliament’s historic Queensberry House.

Holyrood’s six committee rooms have already been named in honour of famous Scots – but only one of them was a woman, the Scottish science writer Mary Fairfax Somerville.

Calls for other prominent women to be similarly recognised were initially rejected. But Scottish Parliament bosses have now agreed in principle that two large meeting rooms in Queensberry House should be named after female figures from Scotland’s history.

Glasgow Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson, who pressed the idea, has already suggested missionary Mary Slessor and rent strike leader Mary Barbour.

But Edinburgh Southern SNP MSP Jim Eadie said one of the rooms should honour Dr Inglis (1864-1917), who studied medicine at Edinburgh University when it was still unusual for women to do so and set up a women’s hospital in the Capital before the start of the First World War.

She defied British government advice and went to the continent to set up female-staffed field hospitals in Serbia, Ukraine and Romania.

Mr Eadie said: “I welcome the fact the Parliament has decided to name major meeting rooms in Queensberry House after outstanding women in Scottish life.

“The obvious candidate for me is Elsie Inglis – someone who saved lives and helped humanity, not just in Scotland but in a much wider context, and made an outstanding contribution to humankind.

“Particularly in this 100th anniversary year of the First World War, what better tribute could there be than to name one of the rooms after Elsie Inglis?”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com