Mary Seacole had a reputation that was only next to that of Florence Nightingale. She was a Jamaican-born nurse whose passion to help people led her to become one of the most important figures during the Crimean War, where she helped several injured soldiers.
At the start of the war, Seacole applied to the British War Office to assist but her request was turned down. Regardless, she independently set up the British Hotel near Balaclava to care for the wounded. She became a much-loved figure.
Upon her return to London in 1856, Seacole was bankrupt from debts run up by the soldiers she had treated at the British hotel. The newspapers started a public campaign to raise money for her, backed by royalty and a grateful British Army.
The proceeds from the Fund she set up from the support she received, sustained her livelihood and comfort in Paddington, London, right until her death in 1881.