This centenarian continues to inspire

Tuesday, 09 September 2014 08:39 Inam Abidi Amrohvi
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An old picture of Flora WatkinsFlora Watkins is a recipient of the Florence Nightingale award.

 

I must confess, I never heard of Flora Watkins until recently. Her name came up during a conversation with a friend, Priti Quinn. I wonder how I missed such a towering figure amongst the Anglo Indian community. Perhaps it's time for me to let others, like me, know more about her.

Retd. Colonel Florence St. Claire Watkins was the first Anglo Indian military personnel to receive the Florence Nightingale award. It was presented to her by the ICRC (International Committe of the Red Cross) in 1965 in form of a medal.Flora with a friend

Flora Watkins, as she is fondly called, got her education in Burma, Madras, Bombay and Lucknow. She started her nursing training in 1931 and completed her midwifery in 1934 at Lady Curzon Hospital in Bangalore. Her nursing career took off in 1940 when she joined the army as a staff nurse. In December of the same year she was transferred to the Middle East Land Forces and spent five years overseas. Watkins received a medal of honour from the Royal Red Cross during this period for treating and serving 52 heat-stroke patients.

Upon her return, she worked in various towns in pre independent India including Sialkot and Calcutta. In 1953, she served at army headquarters, in 1960 at Jabalpur and 1961 onwards as Principal Matron in a military hospital at Shillong.

She selflessly carried out her task as a nurse in October and November 1962. The hospital where she worked received some two hundred wounded individuals from the war with China. She looked after the people in her care with utmost love.

1969 saw her retiring and moving to Jabalpur where she became the first Anglo-Indian MLA for MP, serving two terms.

Colonel Watkins continues as VP Emeritus of the Jabalpur Anglo Indian Committee and is still the longest serving on committees among the AIAIA's (All-India Anglo-Indian Association) 63 branches in the country.

At 103 she continues to inspire generations!

 

---Inam Abidi Amrohvi, Editor, The Other News