Elsie Inglis statue on the cards as volunteers given go-ahead to host week of events

A week of special events is to be held to raise cash for a statue honouring the pioneering work of Edinburgh-born medical heroine Elsie Inglis.

By Jolene Campbell
Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 12:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th November 2021, 2:22 pm
Edinburgh born suffragette and doctor Elsie Inglis
Edinburgh born suffragette and doctor Elsie Inglis

Volunteers helping raise cash for a statue in tribute to the pioneer’s life and work in the capital said plans are a step closer, after the council gave unanimous backing for special fundraising events next year including a Meadows “Sit still” event.

Girlguiding Edinburgh will host the sponsored ‘sit still’ as part of a week of activities in bid to raise the £47,500 needed for a statue in the capital.

Elsie Inglis had her offer of Women’s Hospitals rejected by the British Government in 1914, and was told “Go home and be still”.

Widely regarded as a heroine of the First World War and an advocate for women’s rights, Dr Inglis is more widely celebrated in Serbia, where she served as a medical officer during the First World War, than in Edinburgh where she lived for many years.

The Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital was established in Abbeyhill 1925 to replace the Hospice which Elsie had set up in 1904. The hospital facility closed in 1988 when services were transferred to the former Eastern General.

But the group of dedicated supporters leading fundraising drive for the statue hopes the planned week of events will generate cash needed to finally honour her memory in the city.

A crowdfunder has been set up and has raised £2,400, after a Lord Provost’s fund for a statue honouring her legacy stalled after failing to drum up enough public funds.

Under the plans for the week of events blue badge tour guides will provide specialist walking tours of sites linked to Elsie Inglis life and a series of afternoon teas will be hosted by the Lord Provost in the City Chambers and Royal College of Surgeons.

The Lord Provost has also applied for £20,000 to fund QR code for a statue, allowing digital download of Elsie Inglis history.

Supporter Fiona Garwood said: “With vital council support we can raise the money still needed for the statue. We have lined up speakers for a week of special events including Professor Linda Bauld, Kirsty Wark, author Sarah Sheridan, army medics and many more. With their support we hope to get the statue and hold up Elsie Inglis as a role model that deserves to be celebrated.”

Susan Brown from Girlguiding Edinburgh said: “Just as Elsie did when she didn’t “Go Home and Sit still” after her offer to the British War Office to create a medical unit staffed entirely by women, was rejected. At our “Sit Still” in the Meadows, in March, we definitely don’t plan to sit still all the time – we are using many activities from the Girlguiding programme that fit in with much of Elsie’s life – first aid, wartime activities, camping, and opportunities for young members to speak out about what is important to them.”

The Lord Provost said: “There is no doubt that Dr Elsie Inglis – war hero, pioneering medic, advocate of women’s rights – is a truly revered and treasured figure in Edinburgh’s history, so I am delighted that as we look ahead to 2022 there are plans afoot to raise funds to make sure a fitting tribute is achieved.”

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