Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Florence Nightingale Motor Ambulance

From The Lichfield Mercury, 22nd January 1915.

Knitting parties are giving up some of their popularity in London just now in favour of a new and fascinating game which may be called the Christian Name Hunt.  It was started by Mrs. Conybeare, who conceived the idea of inviting all women with Florence for a name to subscribe for a motor ambulance in memory of the life and work of Florence Nightingale.

But it did not stop there.  Someone also thought, “Why not get all the women bearing my Christian name to subscribe too?”  And so the thing has spread till there is a kind of friendly rivalry among some of those concerned as to who can produce the greatest number of charitable people bearing a certain name.  The idea is likely to have a considerable effect on the charity of the future, for it will not be allowed to expire with the war, and in future every woman wanting to beat up recruits for her pet charity will have recourse to it.  Among those who aspire to a link with the great it will be most successful.  “I am going to tea with the dear Duchess of X. tomorrow” will be a great gambit in suburban drawing rooms.  “We are working for such and such a cause together.  We have the same name you know.  Such a bond, isn't it?”

[The original idea has some merit - at that time, any girl named Florence is likely to have been named for Florence Nightingale.  She was named Florence because she was born there, but otherwise it was rarely used as a girl's name until she became famous.  And providing a motor ambulance is an appropriate purpose to associate with Florence Nightingale. But in general, expecting people to support your favourite charity just because they have the same first name as you seems a bit daft.] 

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