A couple weeks back I was asked to attend a business expo in my local area because Elizabeth Anionwu would be speaking. Elizabeth Anionwu is a nurse who has offered specialist care for those suffering with Sickle Cell Disease. As someone who suffers sickle cell, it was inevitable that I was invited to show my support for Elizabeth Anionwu and her work. Going into the event I didn’t know what to expect from her book, I just assumed it would be based on her career in nursing.
When Elizabeth Anionwu hit the stage she spoke about her origins. She was the daughter of a sheltered Catholic girl of Liverpool Irish heritage. Her mother studied at Newnham College in Cambridge where she fell pregnant by a black man. As you can imagine, in 1947 the impact from this was dramatic. Elizabeth began to speak about the racism that she had to endure throughout her upbringing, and how she never understood it until she became conscious enough to seek out her father and learn more about the African culture.
Although it was brief, Elizabeth’s description of her life and everything she went through to become the Professor Elizabeth Anionwu of today was both touching and inspiring for me. I went from going there to support her because of her work in Sickle Cell, to just appreciating her journey. And now everyone will have the chance to understand her journey with the release of her memoir Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union.
Elizabeth went from dreaming of being a nurse, to receiving a CBE from Prince Charles in 2001, to now winning a lifetime achievement award. I love reading memoirs from people such as Elizabeth who have had such a positive impact on people’s lives while also achieving levels of success reserved for the passionate and hard working.
Elizabeth has even gone on to pay homage to revolutionary nurses before her. Earlier this year her appeal led to a statue of Mary Seacole being placed at London’s St Thomas’ Hospital. Elizabeth is now a Life Patron of the new charity, the Mary Seacole Trust.
Be sure to show your support by picking up a copy of Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union today!
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