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Florence Nightingale Foundation president steps down

Florence Nightingale Foundation president steps down
Image courtesy of the Florence Nightingale Foundation

Baroness Mary Watkins of Tavistock will step down as president of the Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) at the organisation’s annual general meeting (AGM) today.

After seven years as president of the nursing and midwifery charity, Baroness Watkins, a crossbench peer in the House of Lords, will be ending her tenure due to other commitments.

Commenting on her time in post at the FNF, Baroness Watkins said: ‘It has been an honour and a privilege to be president for seven years and to see the foundation develop and grow.

‘The focus on all branches of nursing, and scholarships increasingly being awarded to nurses and midwives from all groups of society has been a particular pleasure to be associated with during my period of tenure.’

She added: ‘I remain fully committed to supporting the foundation in the future and want to thank everyone who has been involved in making the FNF such a success during this period.’

Baroness Watkins qualified as a general nurse in 1976 and as a mental health nurse in 1979, she then worked in community and in-patient mental health acute settings.

Awarded a FNF Scholarship in 1985, Baroness Watkins went on to be appointed as pro-vice chancellor for health at Plymouth University in 2005.

Having been a secretary of state nominee to the former UKCC for Nursing and Midwifery – now the Nursing and Midwifery Council – and having been a member of the UKCC Education Commission, Baroness Watkins explored a particular interest in governance through her years as president.

She is currently alternate chair of Nursing Now, a global initiative launched to help raise the profile of nursing, and in this role was co-chair of the World Health Organization’s review of the State of the World Nursing which was published in 2020.

Simon Gillespie, chair of the board of the FNF, said: ‘Baroness Watkins has been an outstanding president, guide, mentor, and friend for the Florence Nightingale Foundation for the last seven years.

‘Under her stewardship, the foundation has weathered the challenges of austerity and the Covid-19 pandemic, to innovate its approach, and broaden and extend its influence as a leading voice in developing nursing and midwifery leadership in the UK and across the world.’

In the interval of appointing a new president, the FNF’s vice-president, Avery Bhatia, will be its interim president.

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