Campaigning nurse Charlotte is honoured with blue plaque

A CAMPAIGNING nurse has been recognised for the effect she had both on people and her industry by having a blue plaque unveiled in her honour.Charlotte Seymour Yapp was tireless in her efforts to raise standards and promote Poor Law Nursing in the early part of the last century.

She also played a significant role in the early days of the General Nursing Council (GNC) for England and Wales.

Now she has been honoured with the plaque, which has been unveiled at Tameside Hospital – on the site of where she worked.

Charlotte worked at the Lake Hospital, a purpose-built 300 bedded hospital attached to the Ashton workhouse, in from 1914 until she retired in 1925.

She was the sixth nurse to register with the GNC on the general register and was appointed to the first caretaker council of the GNC in 1920 where she was one of only four nurse members who represented Poor Law Hospitals (of 16 in total) and the only member who had also trained in one.

Charlotte was born in the Ardwick, Manchester, in 1879 and by 1891 she lived in Edgbaston, Birmingham, where father Moses worked as a railway porter.

She trained as a nurse at Aston Union Poor Law Infirmary at Erdington, near Birmingham, completing her training in 1903.

An active member of the Poor Law Nursing Association; nursing posts at poor law infirmaries in Yorkshire and the North East preceded her appointment in 1914, as Matron of the Lake Hospital.

Charlotte was also a prolific author, contributing regularly to the Poor Law Officers’ Journal.

She wrote a series of lecture notes for probationer (student) nurses and edited the journal’s nursing section between 1910 and 1925.

She also published textbooks including one on medical and surgical nursing in 1912 and children’s nursing in 1915.

By 1925, heart problems were causing her to be severely debilitated and in September of that year she wrote to Miss Riddell (registrar to the GNC) that she was feeling very depressed about her enforced retirement that week at the age of only 46.

She died at Ashwood House, a private asylum in Kingswinford, Staffordshire, on March 21 1934 aged 54.

At the unveiling of the blue plaque, Peter Weller, director of nursing and integrated govenance at Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS FT, said, “We are so proud to have a blue plaque demonstrating the historical significance of the Lake Hospital and nurse Charlotte Seymour Yapp.

“Charlotte demonstrated values that we still live and work by today at Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS FT.”

Estephanie Dunn, regional director for the Royal College of Nursing in the North West, said: “It was an honour to be invited to commemorate the contribution of Charlotte Seymour Yapp.

“In a letter to a friend, she feared her work would be forgotten, but this shows that she will be remembered forever as a pioneering nurse.

“It is important to acknowledge the efforts of those in the past who fought to ensure nurses were given the respect they deserved whilst caring for those who needed it the most and Charlotte Seymour Yapp was the epitome of a nursing champion.”

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