Can Boris Johnson, Barbie and Charles Hanson save Florence Nightingale Museum?

Posted on 01/06/2020 in Press Coverage

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and a Barbie doll nurse will play their part in a major charity auction on June 19 to help save the Florence Nightingale Museum from closure.

A Downing Street book signed by Johnson and a Florence Nightingale Barbie are among more than 80 lots donated by well-wishers, businesses and VIPs to a charity auction led by TV auctioneer Charles Hanson.

The museum, a small independent charity, needs £160,000 to survive its prolonged closure forced by the Covid-19 pandemic. It had been expecting a bumper year as 2020 marks the 200th anniversary of Nightingale’s birth, the founder of modern-day nursing.

After discovering the museum’s plight, Charles, a regular on TV’s Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip, offered to run an online charity auction from his Derbyshire garden shed to help the tourist attraction. In April, Charles raised £38,000 for the NHS through a similar event.

On Friday, June 19 he will host a shed auction to help the museum, which is based at St Thomas’s Hospital in London, the place where Nightingale established her nursing school and where prime minister Boris Johnson conquered coronavirus.

Charles said: “I was horrified when I heard it could close. Florence lived for a time in my native Derbyshire. She’s an iconic British historical figure we should all be proud of. Her story must be preserved, not least because it inspires children to take up nursing as a career.”

David Green, director of the award-winning Florence Nightingale Museum, said: “I’m very grateful to Charles. We’ve been overwhelmed by support for the Florence Nightingale Shed Auction. Lots have flooded in. Now we just need plenty of keen bidders. We’re trying everything possible to secure funding for the museum and also have a GoFundMe page.”

Lots include several items relating to the nursing icon. For example, John Shallcross, a relative of Nightingale, has donated books. Bringing her influence bang up to date, toy maker Mattel has donated the final design prototype of a Florence Nightingale Barbie and a digital sketch of the doll in its final design stage.

TV’s Dr Ranj has signed a set of nursing scrubs donated by England’s Chief Nursing Officer Ruth May, whilst well-wisher Jill Roddan has donated a 19th century antique apothecary case. Other nursing-related items include Victorian medical equipment and a First World War nursing cup.

MP and former British prime minister Teresa May has donated a signed photograph; former racing driver Tiff Needell has donated a signed card and a mini cricket bat signed by former Australian international Glenn Mcgrath is also up for auction.

People can also get a taste of what life was like for Nightingale with a weekend stay donated at her former family home, Lea Hurst in Derbyshire. Bidders can also purchase a tour of her Hampshire home Embley Park, now a boarding school and not open to the public.

Other lots include ballet shoes donated by Tamara Rojo, artistic director and principal dancer of the English National Ballet, Thornbridge Florence beer and a Fortnum & Mason luxury hamper including beef extract. Fortnum & Mason sent out large quantities of concentrated beef tea to Nightingale for use in her hospital at Scutari during the Crimean War.

Charles said: “David Green and his team have worked incredibly hard to source a fascinating and eclectic mix of lots. I would like to thank everyone who has donated to this auctionand I very much hope the great British public will tune into our bidding platform - and help us make as much money as possible for the Nightingale museum.”

The Florence Nightingale Auction will take place on Friday June 19, starting at 6pm. Register to bid, browse the catalogue and watch the auction at

To make a donation to the Florence Nightingale Museum visit: