Florence Nightingale's relatives celebrate International Nurses Day in Sussex

Two local NHS mental health nurses with the last name Nightingale, one with historical family links to the legendary Florence Nightingale, are celebrating International Nurses Day on Tuesday 12 May.

International Nurses Day is celebrated each year on 12 May to mark Florence Nightingale's birthday and this year is particularly special as it is the 200th anniversary of her birth.

The two Nightingale nurses, Rachel and Alastair, work at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust which provides mental health and learning disability services in Sussex and children's mental health services in Hampshire. 

Both nurses have fascinating nursing careers which they have shared in celebration of this very special day.

Rachel Nightingale is a Team Leader in the Assertive Outreach Team in West Sussex, a small team that works closely to support clients with psychosis who often find it difficult to engage with mental health services.

Rachel, who started her nurse training in 1985 and now has nearly 35 years of continuous NHS service, was inspired to become a nurse after working as a care assistant in an old people's home as a teenager, doing psychology A level, and most significantly after seeing her mother live with her own mental health problems. 

Throughout her career Rachel has met the most amazing people who have inspired her, including patients and their families who have shown resilience and strength in coping with some lonely and difficult times, shared their experiences, and turned their lives around. 

Rachel said "Helping and supporting people who are distressed, frightened or feeling unsafe and being able to make a difference is immensely rewarding".

Rachel, a Nightingale by marriage, has historical family links to the one and only Florence Nightingale.

Rachel added, "Nightingale is my married name. My husband's family tree dates back to the 1600's. In the 18th century Peter Nightingale was a wealthy man and founder of Lea cotton spinning mill. He was Florence Nightingale's great uncle. He left his wealth to Florence's grandmother, on the condition that they changed their name to Nightingale and assumed the arms and name Nightingale! A tenuous and rather complicated link to the legendary Florence Nightingale!" 

Alastair Nightingale is a Registered Mental Health Nurse in the Brighton and Hove Wellbeing Service who was comes from a nursing background dating back to his great grandmother who was a midwife.  

Despite his family background Alastair had absolutely no desire to go into nursing or care work and saw himself in the construction industry as a civil engineer.

Alastair was unemployed in the early 90's after leaving college and had a good friend who worked as a care assistant in a local hospital (Pewsey Hospital, Wiltshire).  He seemed to enjoy the work and an opportunity came up for six weeks maternity cover. Alastair found that he really enjoyed the work and it was enormously rewarding to help others.  After a couple of years Alastair decided to train as a nurse after and being  inspired by his nursing colleagues .  

Alastair said, "The best thing about my role is giving people hope, and supporting and guiding them through very difficult times in their life. Seeing people recover from a point when they can see no reason for living, to shaking your hand and smiling at the end of your final session together, as they go back to their life more resilient and with a better understanding of how they can keep themselves well and happy in the future. 

To see how nurses at Sussex Partnership are making international nurses day and celebrating Florence Nightingale's 200th anniversary follow @withoutstigma on Twitter or find Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust on Facebook.