Edith Cavell Centenary - events coming up in Belgium and UK

Posted on centenarynews.com on 15 September 2015
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Centenary News takes a first look at commemorations coming up in October 2015 to mark the centenary of the execution of the British nurse, Edith Cavell, in occupied Belgium during the First World War.

Edith Cavell was tried by a German court martial, together with members of the resistance, for helping Allied soldiers escape to the neutral Netherlands.

She was condemned to death and despite appeals for clemency by American and Spanish diplomats, shot by a firing squad in Brussels at dawn on October 12th 1915.

Originally from the English county of Norfolk, Edith Cavell was invited to become director of Belgium's first training school for nurses by the eminent surgeon, Dr Antoine Depage, in 1907.

She's remembered as a pioneer of nursing; for her care of all the wounded, regardless of nationality; and her last words: 'Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness for anyone.'

Events will be taking place in Brussels, as well as Norwich and London, to mark the anniversary of Edith Cavell's death.

We start with commemorations organised by the Belgian Edith Cavell Commemoration Group (BECCG):
The highlights include the Brussels première of the Cavell Mass, a new work commissioned by BECCG for the Centenary. It features the hymn tune Abide with Me, sung by Edith Cavell on the eve of her execution, as an underlying theme. The Cavell Mass will be given its first performance at a commemorative concert in Holy Trinity Pro-Cathedral, where Edith Cavell worshipped, on October 10th at 8pm. It's been composed by David Mitchell, Holy Trinity's Director of Music. Booking information here.
Holy Trinity will also host a memorial service on October 11th at 10.30am
An exhibition devoted to Edith Cavell will be held from October 10-30th in Uccle, a municipality on the outskirts of Brussels.  A special programme for schools has been prepared. Venue: Le Doyenné-Maison des Arts d'Uccle.
On October 28th, there will be a screening of Dawn, a 1928 film of Edith Cavell's story starring one of Britain's greatest actresses, Sybil Thorndike. The film has recently been restored by Cinematik and the British Film Institute. Venue: Uccle Cultural Centre

Andrew Brown, Chairman of BECCG, describes Edith Cavell as 'amongst the most emblematic individuals' of the First World War.

He told Centenary News: "Her 'crime' was to have helped Allied soldiers, separated from the British Expeditionary Force, and young people seeking to re-join the Belgian army, to escape to the Netherlands, a country that was neutral during the First World War.

"Beyond these resistance activities, in what has sometimes been called the 'Cavell Network', it is important to remember the role she played in the development of health care and the beginnings of professional nursing in Belgium, the principal reason for her being in Brussels. 

"Edith Cavell in her role as a nurse found herself at a meeting point of patriotism, self-sacrifice, faith, feminism and nursing. At this moment in time it is surely of interest to examine the life and the role of this Anglican pastor’s daughter against the background of Brussels in the First World War."

In the UK, there'll be Edith Cavell tributes at centenary events hosted by Norwich Cathedral and St Martin-in-the-Fields, the church near her memorial just off Trafalgar Square in Central London. More details will follow in Centenary News.

More about Edith Cavell's life and work, and the events in Belgium, can be found on the Belgian Edith Cavell Commemoration Group website.

Sources: Visitflanders; BECCG

Images courtesy of BECCG

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

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