OUTSTANDING SERVICE: Richmond River nurse Ellen Riordan was awarded seven medals for her service in the ANZAC Nursing Corps in both World Wars. Now Southern Cross University will honour her legacy with an annual lecture series.
OUTSTANDING SERVICE: Richmond River nurse Ellen Riordan was awarded seven medals for her service in the ANZAC Nursing Corps in both World Wars. Now Southern Cross University will honour her legacy with an annual lecture series. Supplied

Northern Rivers' Florence Nightingale to be honoured

THE legacy of a Northern Rivers nurse who performed outstanding service amidst the horrors of two World Wars will be honoured with an annual lecture series.

The daughter of a Richmond River dairy farmer, Ellen Riordan was awarded seven medals for her service in the ANZAC Nursing Corps in both World Wars.

On Friday at 6pm, Southern Cross University will honour her meritorious service with the inaugural Nell Riordan Lecture, hosted by the School of Health and Human Sciences at the Lismore campus and the health community and the general public are invited to attend this free event.

Professor Iain Graham, Head of the School of Health and Human Sciences, created the lecture series after being inspired by the story of the Northern Rivers' own Florence Nightingale.

Professor Graham said the School believes that the establishment of this series will display respect to her memory and legacy.

"My aim is that this annual series of lectures will help stimulate discussion around the provision of health and healthcare that is undergoing profound changes nationally and internationally," he said.

"I am grateful that Nurse Riordan family have supported this initiative to honour our own local 'Nightingale'."

Born in 1889-1978, Sister Riordan trained as a nurse at Princess Alexander Hospital in Brisbane.

She went to Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) in Sydney as a probationer in 1911 and left in 1915 to take a post at Crown Street Hospital.

However, by June 1915 she answered the call so many others did had joined the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS), the Australian Army Reserve unit which provided a pool of trained civilian nurses who volunteered for military service.

Sr Riordan was a member of the 14th Australian General Hospital aboard the hospital ship, HMAT Kanowna, which transported wounded soldiers from Gallipoli during the ANZAC campaign.

Her skills and dedication were recognised when she was appointed Matron-in-Chief at Choubra Infections Hospital in Cairo, Egypt.

Relocating to Greece, Sr Riordan received the Greek Medal of Military Merit in 1919 from King Alexander for her nursing services to Greece.

After the First World War, she nursed in military and civilian hospitals in Kenya and Ethiopia, where she met civil engineer Cyril Tucker, whom she married in Mombasa in 1930.

They each stayed on standby to serve in the Second World War.

In 1968 she was accepted into the Gallipoli Legion of ANZACs and when she died in on March 24 1978, she was the last surviving member of the elite group.

Sr Riordan was awarded seven service medals, which are on display at the Richmond River Historical Society in Lismore.

The medals comprise; First World War - Star; War Medal; Victory Medal and Second World War - Star; Africa Star; Defence Medal and the Victory Medal.

She is also listed on the RPA Honour Board.

Kris Rowlands said she was already proud her great-aunt's achievements but being recognised by the University was special.

"The family is naturally very proud of her story. Nell was a pioneer and brave, working overseas in conflict zones. Yet she remained very humble about her experiences and challenges," Ms Rowlands said..

"Nell would love having her named being linked to medicine in this way with the lecture series."

The guest lecturer at the inaugural Nell Riordan Lecture is Professor Linda Shields, Professor of Rural Health at Charles Sturt University and an Honorary Professor in the School of Medicine at The University of Queensland.

Professor Shield's topic is 'Australia's forgotten World War One hero - Dame Maud McCarthy'.

Event Details

Inaugural Nell Riordan Lecture, Friday 8 September at Southern Cross University's Lismore Campus. Room Z1.81B in Z Block. Start time 6pm.

RSVP and more information: healthpa@scu.edu.au



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