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Readers' Letters

Readers' Letters

Angel Florence deserves People’s Plaque

PUBLISHED: 11:52 24 February 2011

It’s hustings time for the election of Islington Green People’s Plaques!

I write as chairman of the Manor Gardens Welfare Trust to ask your readers to consider voting for Florence Keen (1868-1942).

Florence founded the North Islington Infant Welfare Centre in 1913, now the Manor Gardens Welfare Centre, as a purely voluntary effort. It flourished and was London’s flagship clinic of its kind. It was progressive, experimental and internationally famed.

It remained largely supported by voluntary contributions until the 1960s. We kept our independence from the NHS. We have extended our remit but keep to the same values as ever.

Florence Keen was treasurer and secretary of the Manor Gardens Centre from 1913 until 1938. She lived at Mayfield, West Hill, Highgate, and worked more or less full time at the centre and was knowledgeable and hands-on.

She was a persuasive public speaker and writer. She was awarded an OBE in 1937. Her daughter Althea Davies MBE and her grandson Tim Davies continued active involvement until 2000. Our Patron from 1923 until her death in 2002 was the Duchess of York, later to be HRH the Queen Mother, an extraordinary 79 years.

Florence Keen was a true Islington hero, who literally helped save thousands of local babies and children in their first years. She was often called “the Angel of Islington” and “the Florence Nightingale of Islington” by grateful parents. In 2013 Manor Gardens Welfare Centre will celebrate its 100th anniversary. May I suggest that a plaque for Florence Keen would be a most appropriate token of our respectful memory.

There are 10 worthy nominations. But regrettably voters have only one vote.

Voting must be done by February 28 – visit www.islington.gov.uk/peoplesplaque, or write to Islington Local History Centre, Finsbury Library, 245 St John Street EC1V 4NB. – Dr Andrew Turton, Manor Gardens Welfare Centre, N7.


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