Coin tribute to WW1’s Edith Cavell

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Published: Wednesday 27th May 2015 by The News Editor

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A new coin celebrating brave and devoted nurse Edith Cavell has been struck by the Royal Mint as part of its five-year commemoration of the First World War.

The coin, which is available to order from today, depicts Cavell tending to a wounded soldier. Inspired by the words of Laurence Binyon’s poem, titled Edith Cavell, the coin’s inscription reads: “She faced them gentle and bold.”

When war broke out in 1914, Cavell formed a Red Cross hospital in Brussels and nursed German and Belgian wounded soldiers. Following the German occupation of the city, her institution was placed at the disposal of the invading army, and although Cavell was offered the chance to return to Britain, she chose to remain with her nurses.

Cavell went beyond her nursing duties and was credited with helping some 200 Allied soldiers escape from the German-occupied territory. In August 1915 Cavell was arrested and she was later executed by firing squad.

The coin which is available to order from today, is part of a set of six commemorative £5 coins. A silver proof version of the set is available to buy for £450 and a gold proof version of the set can be bought by collectors for £9,900.

Last year saw the Royal Mint embark on a five-year commemoration of the First World War, telling the story of the emotive wartime journey from outbreak to armistice.

The coins in the series tell the stories of the armed forces, individuals, key battles and cultural and technological developments of that period, eventually finishing with a reflection on the armistice and the ongoing legacy of the war.

The design has been created by sculptor David Cornell who has undertaken a number of commissions for the Royal Mint.

He said: “This is a brave, devoted woman, who chose to sacrifice herself to help the injured and the dying.

“My design shows Edith caring for an injured soldier but also looking over her shoulder to make sure the coast is clear to help the wounded soldier escape. I captured a little sadness in her expression, as I am sure seeing so many young men suffering must have been an awful experience for her.”

To mark the release of the coin, a relative of Cavell visited the Royal Mint to strike one of the special edition coins in her honour.

Dr Emma Cavell, visited the Mint with her 10-month-old daughter, also called Edith.

She said: “My great, great grandfather and Edith’s father were brothers. The family has been in Australia since at least Nurse Cavell’s time but, growing up, we have always known about Edith Cavell.

“My grandfather used to talk about her all the time and had memories of a postcard from Edith to my great grandfather in Australia. It is fantastic to know that her bravery and courage is being recognised in this way, and to have the opportunity to strike and accept one of these special coins on behalf of my family.

“I look forward to telling my daughter about her famous namesake one day, and am sure that she will treasure this coin which honours her relative.”

Published: Wednesday 27th May 2015 by The News Editor

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