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  • Ijeoma Peter

Unveiling YHP’s Mural at Charing Cross Hospital

When YHP’s latest project on the history of African women in the British health service began, one of our proposed outputs was producing a mural to immortalise the brilliant women we researched. Our project aimed to commemorate pioneering African women in healthcare before and after the formation of the NHS. In 2018, while I was working as a radiographer at Charing Cross Hospital, I contacted the Head of Arts at the Imperial Health Charity about YHP and our goals. The response I received was brilliant. From the outset, the charity were enthusiastic about our project and fully on board with having the mural installed at the hospital.

YHP members standing in front of the hospital mural. The women depicted are Hala Abusin, Amakhoe Minney, Princess Ademola, Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, Susan Ofori Atta, Olaore Green, and Lulu Coote (from left to right).

Commissioning a mural was a new endeavour for YHP, but the charity was very helpful navigating this area. From helping to select an appropriate location for the mural, to providing a letter of support to the Heritage Lottery Fund to strengthen our funding application, the entire process was a collaborative effort between the charity, Amelia Francis (YHP’s project co-ordinator) and myself. Renowned Bristol muralist Michele Curtis was commissioned to create the piece. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, only this year (2022) was she able to come in to the hospital site and begin her work. YHP members also helped and added their own touches to the mural during its production.

We set up a mural planning group, in which YHP members brainstormed the mural’s design with consultation from Michele Curtis. YHP members researched and selected the women who would feature in the mural. We chose seven women, from a wide variety of eras, backgrounds, and health fields:

Hala Abusin

a community pharmacist and the founder of Platpharma

Amakhoe Minney

a physiotherapist at Charing Cross hospital

Princess Adenrele Ademola

a Nigerian Princess who worked as a midwife in London during WWII

Professor Dame Elizabeth Anoinwu

a retired nurse and lecturer, health activist, and author

Susan Ofori Atta

the fourth west African woman to gain a medical degree in Britain and the first female doctor in Ghana

Olaore Green

a midwife in Britain during the 1910s, and one of the earliest qualified Black woman pharmacists in Britain

Lulu Coote

one of the first African women to have worked in Britain’s healthcare system

We had initially planned to install the mural in 2020. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this was not possible. On top of that, we ran out of funding. Yet, this did not deter YHP or the Imperial Health Charity. They were very much still dedicated to the project and even donated additional funds to get us to the finish line. I’m sure I speak for everyone involved when I say how proud we are of the work achieved here. To remember these pioneering women and their legacies, whilst highlighting the continued contributions of African women to the health service, is incredible. This mural beautifully connects the past to the present, and we look forward to expanding this mural project in other hospital sites.


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