INNISFAIL – The Innisfail Health Centre Hospital Auxiliary’s annual Strawberry Tea celebration and fundraiser was shut down in 2020 due to COVID but the event was back in 2022 on the best day possible.
It was on May 12, the 202nd birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, and the legendary Lady of the Lamp, a loving nickname given to her during the 19th century’s Crimean War.
“We were all set up in 2020 and then we got cancelled but instead we are celebrating 202 years,” said Rose Winters, president of the auxiliary. “Today is actually Florence Nightingale’s birthday, yes May 12.”
Winters also pointed out the May 12 celebration was a salute to nurses at the Innisfail Health Centre.
It was also International Nurses Day, which is always held on Nightingale’s birthday. From May 9 to 15 it was National Nursing Week in Canada, with the week-long celebration ending on the legendary social reformer’s birthday.
“We nailed two things at once, a birthday and the nurses,” said Winters. “It’s great to be back. I was really concerned whether we would have people but good ole Innisfail has turned out as usual.”
The return of the auxiliary’s annual Strawberry Tea was held on the afternoon of May 12 at the Innisfail Library/Learning Centre. Scores of Innisfailians came to honour heroes, have a delicious strawberry treat and marvel at the creative touches for the special day.
Attendees in the Community Room were greeted with tables immaculately adorned with white cloth; each of them having a red cross.
At the front was a historical display in honour of Nightingale’s life and legacy, courtesy of the Innisfail and District Historical Society.
Anna Lenters, president of the society, said she’d become familiar with the auxiliary’s past accomplishments a few years ago and what the ladies wanted to do in the future, including honouring Nightingale’s 200th birthday.
“I said to Rose, ‘we have in our collection a tremendous amount of nursing and medical pieces and I could do something for you,” recounted Lenters, who then created the display for the 2022 celebration. “These nurses’ outfits were in boxes and haven’t seen the light of day in years. They all had to be washed, starched and pressed.
“It makes it more special and it allows us to throw our support behind Rose and her lovely ladies,” added Lenters.
As for the fundraising, which was done on May 12 through a 50/50 ticket draw, Winters said the auxiliary is looking at widening the door of the health centre’s ambulance bay, noting new ambulances are unable to get in.
“So, passengers are unloaded outside, no matter the weather and taken through the front doors of the hospital, and then through the open foyer. There is no privacy,” said Winters, adding up to $50,000 for the project will be needed to make it a reality.
“We will be having more than one fundraiser. This is a start,” added Winters, noting the auxiliary has just started up again after the long COVID-related shutdown. “Also, we have the Innisfail Health Centre Hospital Auxiliary celebrating its 50th anniversary in October.
“We are also going to have a special day for that.”