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From SRN to CBE: Celebrating 50 Remarkable Years in Nursing

This book gives a personal view of life as a nurse that spanned more than 50 years. It outlines the highs and lows of working in health care, and the effort that one dedicated practitioner put in to try and improve the care for patients.

When she left Ireland in 1958 to train as a nurse at Whipps Cross Hospital in London, little did Mary Spinks (formerly Donn) know that this would be the beginning of an expansive and rewarding career which would cover all aspects of nursing.

From her beginnings as a theatre nurse, she became a sister, then a matron. Mary's passion for nursing led her to join the National Association of Theatre Nurses, which she went on to chair. This took her all over the world, exchanging ideas with nurses worldwide about the best ways to develop theatre nursing.

Mary went on to become Director of Nursing at Lewisham/Hither Green, Chief Nursing Officer at Brighton Health Authority, and then Regional Nursing Officer for North East Thames. She was director of the Florence Nightingale Foundation from 1996 to 2010, and concluded her career in nursing by being appointed CBE by Her Majesty the Queen in November 2010.

About the author

Mary Spinks (formerly Donn) had many achievements during her career from student nurse, fifteen years in operating theatres, nurse management to Regional Officer level, Chairman of a NHS Trust and Director of the Florence Nightingale Foundation.

She influenced theatre nursing during a time of enormous change through a scholarship to the USA. She became National Chairman of the Theatre of Nurses Association (now the Association of Peri-operative Practice), and gave presentations at many overseas conferences. She was instrumental in setting up education courses and was the lead for all non-medical education at regional level. She was involved in many inquiries on medical accidents in the UK.

The final years of her career were devoted to the Florence Nightingale Foundation. She raised money to extend scholarship programmes in research, travel and leadership, this influencing and developing many nurses' careers.

Mary was awarded the CBE in 2010.


Nursing history, nursing management, theatre nursing


Nurses at all levels, including students, doctors, health care managers, policy makers and historians in nursing, health and sociology. It will also be of great interest to the general public.

ISBN: 9781856425070