What Florence Nightingale did was truly remarkable. She was the embodiment of vocation and dedication to her patients. Today there are so many Florence Nightingales working in the NHS, with a different name, but with the same vocation to help those in need. They are true angels here on earth.

As a small child at school, I was often taunted about my name and called ‘Florence Nightingale, the lady with the lamp’. I don’t think the other kids really knew anything about Florence Nightingale but just saw it as a way they could harass a classmate. I asked my parents about Florence Nightingale and they told me all about her and the amazing work she had done. I started to feel proud of her achievements and laughed at the ignorance of the children who had been taunting me.

Prior to the birth of my son Jack, I had been working as a high-flying business development consultant, trainer, and coach with large corporate companies in Glasgow and London. My job gave me a great lifestyle with excellent money, company car, expenses, and company perks. I owned a property in Maidenhead and had, by the age of 30, achieved my goals. Life was good on paper, but there was a niggle. I had started to read and learn about psychology, therapy, and counselling. In hindsight, I can now see that my vocational journey to becoming a counsellor was just starting.

Nightingale… A Vocational Calling

When I returned to live in Glasgow, at the age of 35, I was expecting the arrival of my son Jack. I continued to work during my pregnancy and fully intended to return to my high flying job and life. That certainly never happened! My calling to become a counsellor was becoming stronger and I felt it was something that I had to do. I never returned to my high-flying profession; I followed my vocation. I became a stay-at-home Mum and a student. I attended university part-time to study counselling and then moved on to Glasgow Marriage Counselling, the sister company of Relate. I knew within a few weeks that I was ‘home’ and that I was going to work in a profession I would love. We never had any money, and we had to be really resourceful in making ends meet, but I felt blessed in finding my true path.

20 years on and I’m now a leading authority in marriage, couple, and relationship counselling. I have had the pleasure and privilege of helping countless couples resolve their differences and re-establish an emotional connection. I have also worked with individual clients and watched them heal, grow and fly, and each time they do I feel a sense of pride in their achievements and that I’ve been able to make such a positive impact.

When Jack was approximately 2 years old, there was a six-part TV series on at lunchtime, about the life and times of Florence Nightingale. We would watch it together, and when the name Florence was mentioned Jack would turn and look at me with love and pride on his wee face. Given that my goal is to help my clients find health and happiness, Jack didn’t hesitate when I asked him aged 6 for ideas for a name for my private counselling practice. With a huge warm smile on his wee face, he said… NIGHTINGALE. That was it!

During these unprecedented times, we have developed a greater appreciation for the NHS. We are all so thankful that we have this amazing institution. We should also be thankful for our Doctors, Nurses, and Carers, that they found their vocation in life to look after people in need.

So, keep clapping for all of the Doctors, Nurses, and Carers to show your appreciation now and always.

Florence Gray, Nightingale Managing Director