Tom & Greta

25 Sep 2020

Florence Nightingale Foundation CEO, Professor Greta Westwood, tells LifeSearch CEO Tom Baigrie that she’s looking for the silver lining…

As Covid brought the world to its knees, the decimation of the hospitality, tourism, leisure and retail sectors made big headlines.

It was with much less fanfare that charities began to struggle. Lockdown and social distancing nixedeveryday campaigning while sudden financial insecurity heavily impacted donations. 

For the Florence Nightingale Foundation, 2020 should have been a marquee year. The charity’s namesake was born in May 1820, yet the birthday celebrations were postponed as resources and efforts were redirected to the fight against COVID-19. 

The Foundation is one of two health charities on the receiving end of LifeSearch support during the pandemic. For LifeSearch CEO Tom Baigrie – son of a surgeon and brother to Gilly, a practicing nurse for 50 years – supporting health workers was an easy choice. 

So far, LifeSearch have raised well over £40,000 between both charities.

In July, CEO of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, Professor Greta Westwood, met Tom Baigrie for the first time. Greta explained how LifeSearch funds have helped; specifically with the April launch of The Nightingale Frontline Support Service , a remote support service for nurses to and midwives to receive emotional and wellbeing support. 

In a handful of months, the service touched over 1,000 nurses. And it’s no wonder as Greta describes what nurses were dealing with on the front line. From holding phones as dying patients said remote goodbyes to their loved ones, to living separately from family for several painful months. 

The Florence Nightingale Foundation was set up in 1934 to continue the Crimean wartime heroine’s legacy, and provide nursing and midwifery education and scholarships to future generations. 

The charity’s mission is to raise the bar in nursing through academia, and by training up would-be leaders in the profession. As validation of the charity’s success, two of four home-nations’ Chief Nursing Officers are Florence Nightingale scholars: Professor Charlotte McArdle in Northern Ireland, and Ruth May in England. 

Greta, herself a Florence Nightingale alum (class of 2012), believes it’s her duty – and that of the charity – to ensure nurses have what they need to do a better job. 

It’s in this spirit that she wrote a timely letter to a convalescing Boris Johnson, fresh out of the ICU, sending her best wishes for a speedy recovery. Tom agrees, that move wasn’t opportunism but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

*Please note, Boris Johnson is not a LifeSearch policy holder. 

Although Tom Baigrie has a deep family history in the medical professions, he explains why protecting families from the financial impact of death and illness is a valid and moral force for good. It has been his life’s work. LifeSearch officially began in 1998 but a young Tom Baigrie protected his first (of over 600,000) families back in 1981. 

With a spike in unemployment looming, Tom fears that the squeeze will force people to cut discretionary spending, such as insurance, out of the household budget. A disheartening prospect for someone who’s spent a lifetime protecting families. 

Having a financial safety net to soften the financial impact of illness or death has to be weighing heavy on health workers’ minds. After all, the risk of simply going to work has multiplied significantly in a short space of time. 

It’s a question Greta asks - how are nurses and health workers now viewed through the lens of life insurance, an industry in its own unchartered waters. 

There’s an inherent bleakness in Greta’s admission that the NHS is gearing up for a second wave of COVID-19. At the time of publishing, In September 2020, time will tell if this is it or there’s worse to come. 

But alongside a nurse pay review, there could be a silver lining for Greta and her colleagues. 

The NHS has long been propped up by an international workforce, but Brexit and COVID-19 have conspired to change that. Even on a short timeline this presents a serious problem yet, in 2020, the number of UK students set to join the profession is thankfully, after years of decline, on the rise. 

If you want to find out more about the Florence Nightingale Foundation’s work or to support the charity’s white rose appeal, please go to

To find out more about LifeSearch, our commitment to charity and to families, please visit and follow us on social media.

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