The Prince of Wales, TV Historian Dan Snow, Opera singer Nadine Benjamin and celebrities join the public in marking 150 years of the British Red Cross with launch of online exhibition

  • His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales introduces a new online exhibition to celebrate 150 years of the British Red Cross on Tuesday 4th August 
  • Supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the exhibition showcases 150 objects to recognise those who have played an important part in the charity’s history
  • The exhibition features celebrity voices, including historian Dan Snow, Opera singer Nadine Benjamin and Peaky Blinders actress Kate Phillips as well as voices of Red Cross volunteers, staff and supporters from across the UK

Visit the 150 Voices online exhibition: www.redcross.org.uk/150voices

Inspired by communities across the UK and supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the exhibition showcases 150 objects from the charity’s museum and archives collection to celebrate those who have played an important part in the history of the British Red Cross.

His Royal Highness, President of the British Red Cross, introduces the online exhibition, highlighting the role of the charity, supporting people during some of the hardest moments in the last century and a half, whoever and wherever they are.

To mark the anniversary, members of the Royal Family, including Her Majesty the Queen, and The Duchess of Cambridge, have come together to recognise the work of the volunteers, staff, supporters and partners of the charity who have made a difference to the lives of millions of people.

In the introduction to the exhibition, The Prince of Wales refers to the Royal family’s long and proud association with the British Red Cross, which dates back to 1870 when Queen Victoria became the first patron of the charity:

The Prince of Wales said: “I am proud to say that my family has played its own part in supporting the work of the British Red Cross throughout its history.

“As President, I have felt it to be of great importance to continue this close association and to help, in whatever small way I can, to support the extraordinary work of the Red Cross.

“The work of the Red Cross is as essential today as it has ever been, helping those in need both in the United Kingdom and around the world, strengthening our communities and supporting people to face the challenges of an ever-changing and unpredictable world.”

The exhibition profiles the charity’s work, helping to support people in crisis in the UK and overseas. This includes key moments throughout history – including both world wars, supporting the NHS since its creation and in the aftermath of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. More recently the British Red Cross has supported those affected during the crisis in Syria, domestic terror incidents, the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower and responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

The exhibition includes items which highlight the charity’s proud history including:

  • a hand-written letter from Florence Nightingale from 5 March 1861. Nightingale was instrumental in setting up the British Red Cross 
  • an embroidery produced by a convalescing soldier in a Red Cross hospital during World War One
  • a cloth doll dressed up to look like a British Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment (or VAD) nurse from the First World War
  • a British Red Cross Food Parcel delivered by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) to communities in Syria affected by the crisis 
  • a painting by a young refugee called ‘Journey by boat’, about their experience of crossing the Mediterranean Sea, the young artist said they are able to put a name on every face in the drawing

    The exhibition has been co-curated by British Red Cross museum curator Mehzebin Adam.

    TV Historian Dan Snow took part in the exhibition, selecting a camera used by a prisoner of war in a POW camp during the Second World War. The camera, a model Agfa 7.7 produced in the 1930s, was used in Stalag 383 POW camp in Bavaria to capture everyday life in the camp. The photographs are also held in the British Red Cross archives and include images of the photographer and his friends, theatrical productions and sports activities which took place in the camp.

    Speaking about his chosen object TV Historian Dan Snow said: 
    “This object immediately appealed to me because it seems so incongruous in the setting of a prisoner of war camp.”

    “This exhibition is a brilliant opportunity for the public to see and hear the stories of these fascinating objects and the people behind them who have made such an impact during the history of the Red Cross. It was a pleasure to be a part of this project and I would urge each and every one of you to spend some time learning about the fantastic history and present work of the British Red Cross.”

    British Red Cross Chief Executive Mike Adamson said:
    “We are delighted to unveil this special online exhibition to the public on our 150th anniversary. At a time when Covid-19 has meant that many museums have been inaccessible, our new digital collection allows people to virtually explore objects from our fascinating museum and archives.”

    “For 150 years we have been there in times of crisis, and today the British Red Cross is on the forefront of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, supporting those hardest hit.  And it’s thanks to the enduring kindness and dedication of our volunteers and the generosity of our supporters that we will be there for people who need our help for many years to come.”

    British Red Cross Curator Mehzebin Adam said:
    “We are excited to be launching this very special online exhibition, the culmination of a year-long project which brings together 150 voices from communities across the UK, our staff and special high-profile supporters.”
     
    “From the hand-written letter from Florence Nightingale, who was instrumental in setting up the British Red Cross, to an artwork by a young refugee about their experience of crossing the Mediterranean Sea. The 150 items selected tell the story of those who have played an important part in the British Red Cross, celebrating the kindness shown by our volunteers, and the resilience of people affected by crises throughout our history.”

    Today, as the British Red Cross marks its 150th anniversary, the charity is continuing in its response to one of the most challenging humanitarian emergencies in modern history. During the coronavirus crisis, the charity is delivering food and medicine to those who need it most, making sure refugees and people seeking asylum are safe, and working with the NHS to support people home from hospital.

    Visit the British Red Cross 150 Voices online exhibition: www.redcross.org.uk/150voices

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