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Professor Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu DBE CBE FRCN FQNI PhD

Elizabeth was inspired to become a nurse at the young age of four because, whilst she was in care, a ‘wonderful nursing nun’ treated her childhood eczema in an expert and sensitive manner. Born in Birmingham in 1947, she identifies herself as of Irish/Nigerian heritage and started work for the NHS as a school nurse assistant in Wolverhampton at the age of 16.

Elizabeth put a substantial amount of her life into her work as a nurse, health visitor and tutor working with black and minority ethnic communities in London. She helped to establish in Brent the first nurse-led UK Sickle & Thalassaemia Screening and Counselling Centre. In 1988 she was awarded a PhD from the Institute of Education, University College London (UCL).  From 1990-1997 she worked at the Institute of Child Health, UCL as a Lecturer then Senior Lecturer in Community Genetic Counselling. She has written extensively and is a co-author with Professor Karl Atkin of the book ‘The Politics of Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia’ published in 2001 by the Open University Press.

Prior to retirement in 2007, she was Dean of the School of Adult Nursing Studies & Professor of Nursing at University of West London (UWL), before establishing the Mary Seacole Centre for Nursing Practice, also at UWL. 

Elizabeth is co-author with Professor Karl Atkin (University of York) of The Politics of Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia (2001) published by Open University Press and author of A Short History of Mary Seacole: a resource for nurse and students (2005), RCN Publishing.

She was Vice-Chairperson of the successful Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal – the statue was unveiled in June 2016 – and is now a Life Patron of the Mary Seacole Trust.  Elizabeth is also a Patron of the Sickle Cell Society and the Nigerian Nurses Charitable Association UK and is Vice-President of Unite/Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (CPHVA). 

Elizabeth’s awards include:

  • Becoming a Dame in 2017 when awarded a DBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours for services to nursing and the Mary Seacole Statue Appeal.
  • CBE in 2001 for services to nursing.
  • Fellowship of the Queen’s Nursing Institute (FQNI) in 2017.
  • Fellowship of the Royal College of Nursing (FRCN) in 2004. 
  • Inducted into the Nursing Times Nursing Hall of Fame in 2010 for services to the Development of Nurse-led Services. 
  • UK Chief Nursing Officers’ Lifetime Achievement Award at the Nursing Times Awards ceremony on 26th October 2016.

Elizabeth’s memoirs ‘Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union’ were published in September 2016.