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‘She left her mark by loving, healing and protecting humanity’ - service remembers Norfolk heroine Edith Cavell

PUBLISHED: 17:27 13 October 2018 | UPDATED: 21:11 13 October 2018

Edith Cavell remembrance service at Norwich Cathedral.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Edith Cavell remembrance service at Norwich Cathedral. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

A selfless Norfolk heroine whose sacrifice helped save the lives of soldiers during the First World War has been remembered at a poignant service in Norwich.

Edith Cavell remembrance service at Norwich Cathedral.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYEdith Cavell remembrance service at Norwich Cathedral. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

By helping Allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium, Edith Cavell epitomised the unflinching sense of duty which would be needed by so many others in the darkest days of the Great War.

But the fierce patriotism of this faithful nurse from Swardeston was matched by her quiet dignity – refusing to harbour bitterness even towards the German firing squad which executed her on October 12, 1915.

And on Saturday, more than 100 years after her death, this true Norfolk heroine was remembered in a service by her graveside outside Norwich Cathedral.

Forces veterans, civic dignitaries, including Norwich’s Lord Mayor Martin Schmierer and nursing staff were among the onlookers at the intimate service during which wreaths were laid on her grave.

Edith Cavell remembrance service at Norwich Cathedral.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYEdith Cavell remembrance service at Norwich Cathedral. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Reverend Canon Dr Peter Doll delivered a moving address in the autumnal sunshine.

He said: “As great as the challenges that face us today, those Edith confronted were immeasurably greater. Her life and the whole world was subsumed in warfare that destroyed human life, both soldiers and civilians, with unprecedented ferocity and totality. Edith could do nothing to end the destruction but she refused to despair of humanity.

“Instead she left her mark by loving, healing, and protecting humanity, one person at a time.

“Behind Edith Cavell’s choice to become a nurse was her desire to be alongside those who suffer and to offer them love and care.”

Edith Cavell remembrance service at Norwich Cathedral.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYEdith Cavell remembrance service at Norwich Cathedral. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

He added: “We treasure her and love her today because today she was an ordinary Norfolk girl who was enabled by her faith to do extraordinary things for people in need, whether they were friends or foes.

“She reminds us all that we too have the capacity to change our world, if we are prepared to love our neighbours, one person at a time.”

The congregation sang Abide with Me and a lone bugle sounded the Last Post during the service which also heard a reading of the famous words spoken by Cavell on the eve of her execution.

She said: “Standing as I do in view of God and Eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”

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