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Cathedral to mark Edith Cavell’s journey home to Norfolk

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The brave Norfolk nurse helped more than 200 soldiers escape from occupied Belgium during the First World War and for this she paid the ultimate price and was executed by the Germans on 12 October 1915.

Her body was returned to the UK after the war and a memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey in London on 15 May 1919, the same day her body was taken from the capital to Norwich by train and buried at Norwich Cathedral.

A century on, Nurse Cavell’s final journey will be remembered on Wednesday 15 May 2019 with a midday service at Westminster Abbey followed by a 6.30pm service of commemoration at Norwich Cathedral.

The Dean of Norwich, the Very Revd Jane Hedges, will preach at the Westminster Abbey service which will also celebrate the life of Florence Nightingale.

Later in the day, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Revd Dr John Hall, will preach at the Norwich Cathedral service, part of which will take place beside Nurse Cavell’s grave.

All are welcome to attend the service at Norwich Cathedral.

The Dean of Norwich, the Very Revd Jane Hedges, said:

“May 15 this year gives us the opportunity to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Edith being laid to rest in her beloved Norfolk and we are delighted to be doing this in partnership with Westminster Abbey; remaking the journey by rail that was made with her body 100 years ago. We hope that many people will gather in the Cathedral at 6.30pm on May 15 for the service which will conclude with a gathering at Edith’s grave, as we remember with thanksgiving this remarkable woman who is an inspiration to us all.”

Nurse Cavell, who was born in Swardeston in 1865, nursed soldiers from both sides of the conflict in occupied Belgium during the First World War.

She was head matron of Belgium’s first nurse training school in Brussels and for nine months she worked with the Belgian and French resistance to shelter more than 200 soldiers from the German occupying forces, helping the soldiers escape to neutral Holland.

But she was betrayed, arrested, and ultimately executed by a German firing squad at 7am on Tuesday 12 October 1915 at the Tir National.

On the night before her death, she famously said:

“Standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”

Nurse Cavell’s words are echoed on her grave which was restored with a new headstone and ledger as part of a series of commemorative events marking the 100th anniversary of Nurse Cavell’s death. Every October a memorial service takes place next to her final resting place.