A PIONEERING woman who overcame prejudice as a heroic nurse and suffragette is set to be honoured in Dumfries – a century after her death.
Dr Flora Murray, who was born in Dalton and worked at Crichton Royal Hospital in Dumfries, is a celebrated figure nationally.
She is revered for many significant achievements, including founding the Women’s Hospital Corps with her lifelong partner, Dr Louisa Garrett, and running military hospitals for both the French and British during WWI.
Dr Murray’s face has even been printed on Scottish bank notes – yet she is not widely recognised in her home region.
Lochar Councillor Linda Dorward is aiming to change that, calling for a memorial to be put in place either where Dr Murray worked locally – the Rutherford McGowan Building at the Crichton Campus – or at her home in Dalton.
Councillor Dorward said: “She, with her partner in life and work surgeon, Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson, overcame the prejudice and bigotry of a male-dominated medical profession, a male-dominated government, and a male-dominated war office.
“They were invited by the British Government, after a similarly successful operation in France, to open a military hospital in the UK run almost entirely by women to treat men – using skills she honed at the Crichton Royal.
“It is significant that her achievements have been recognised nationally. Her portrait is on the Bank of Scotland £100 note, despite being a local girl, born in Dalton and working in the Crichton Royal Hospital, she’s relatively unknown in our region.”
The Labour Group then thanked the council’s museum and library staff for events marking women’s history month and LGBTQ+ history month, along with exhibitions praising the work of women such as Dr Flora Murray.
Councillor Dorward’s speech continued: “But arguably that is not enough. Whilst these exemplary events have brought Dr Flora Murray back home, we in the Labour Group feel she absolutely deserves a permanent memorial.
“The term local hero has never been more fitting.”
Annandale North Councillor Carolyne Wilson, who seconded the motion, added that Dr Flora Murray features strongly in an exhibition in the Dumfries Museum which runs until January 2024.
She added: “Having taken my own children to see it, I thoroughly recommend it. I thought it was particularly important to take my two young daughters to highlight how things have changed for women, but how there are still barriers to overcome.”
Councillor Tracey Little said: “I believe it is right and proper that Dumfries and Galloway Council recognises the life and achievements of this phenomenal local woman.
“Councillor Dorward is right – she’s virtually unknown to the region, which is not unsurprising because she was a woman. We’ve not championed our women enough, sometimes not at all.”
Councillors unanimously agreed to support progressing the memorial plaque plans, with further details to be developed further down the line.