The history of Norland in 13 objects: the first Norlander speedwell badge

The choice of imagery and motto to adorn the badge was an important consideration for the Norland community.

In 1897, the design idea proposed was “that it should take the form of a medal, on the obverse showing a representation of Christ with a child in His arms, as an example of our love of, and work amongst, children; and a border of some spring flowers denoting youth”. On the reverse side, it was suggested that the name of the institute, the nurse and the date she gained the certificate be engraved.  

Norlanders were encouraged to respond to the proposal, share their ideas and vote. Nurses with significant work experience were invited to attend the spring 1898 “At Home” event to discuss the badge. These events were held quarterly and served as nurse reunions. First held in August 1897, they featured prominent speakers including Ramsay MacDonald and Mrs Winston Churchill. 

A series of letters from nurses were published in subsequent Quarterlies, indicating their enthusiasm for the badge as a symbol of career recognition. The holder of our first badge, Nurse Fox, commended the idea. She wrote: “I was very glad to find by the last Quarterly that others agreed with me as to the desirability of a distinguishing badge”. 

Isabel Sharman provided an update on the design in the June 1899 Quarterly. She explained that the ribbon badge idea had been rejected as “too perishable”, and that the badge would “take the form of a medal that may be worn on the watch chain or adapted as a brooch”. She listed some suggested mottoes, and asked nurses to vote for their favourite by postcard. The suggestions ranged from the aspirational “Aim high” and “Dare! Strive! Hope!” to the religious “See God in everything” to the humble “With both hands earnestly”. While there were several centred on love, the mottoes eventually chosen to adorn the badge were not among the options. 

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