Arlene Wellman MBE, Chief Nurse, Director of Infection Prevention and Control and Baby Friendly Guardian, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust

Arlene migrated from Trinidad in the 1990s to work for the NHS. Immediately she faced her biggest challenge when her degree qualifications weren’t accepted and she had to start again. Arlene didn’t let it stop her, saying ‘I viewed it simply as a hurdle to jump over.’


Coming from a family of teachers, Arlene planned to become a teacher too. “However, when I had complications with my second pregnancy, I was looked after by an amazing midwife and felt inspired to do the same for others, so I signed up to be a nurse – on my way to becoming a midwife.

In her role as Chief Nurse, Arlene supports the Director of Nursing in shaping the delivery of high-quality care to the patients. She also works as part of the Trust Board as an equal partner representing nursing and non-medical professionals, the biggest group of employees. She also uses the opportunity to be a role model for all BME staff and drive the inclusion agenda both at Board level and across the organisation.

Arlene has many proud achievements, including completing the Florence Nightingale Aspiring Nurse Director Fellowship and being appointed Chief Nurse after her first interview. Arlene has also recently been awarded an MBE for her contribution to nursing during Covid.


As the nation’s largest Armed Forces charity, the Royal British Legion (RBL) is dedicated to ensuring that all those who served and sacrificed, and who continue to do so, in defence of our freedoms and way of life, from both Britain and the Commonwealth, are remembered.

In our acts of Remembrance, the RBL remembers,

  • The sacrifice of the Armed Forces community from Britain and the Commonwealth.
  • Pays tribute to the special contribution of families and of the emergency services.
  • Acknowledges the innocent civilians who have lost their lives in conflict and acts of terrorism.

The story of Black British and Black African and Caribbean service and sacrifice is one that we are keen to share, a story of men and women who have done so much in defence of Britain and in protecting all our citizens. A story that is replete with stories of bravery and courage, as epitomised by Victoria Cross winner Johnson Beharry.

Therefore, to mark 100 years since Britain’s current Remembrance traditions first came together, the RBL has bought together over 100 stories of British and Commonwealth African and Caribbean service and sacrifice. The stories range from the First World War to the present day and are of servicemen and women from across Britain, Africa and the Caribbean, representing both the armed forces and emergency services.  

The RBL wishes to offer special thanks to Stephen Bourne for his help in putting these stories together. Stephen Bourne has been writing Black British history books for thirty years. For Aunt Esther’s Story (1991) he received the Raymond Williams Prize for Community Publishing. His best-known books are Black Poppies (2019) and Under Fire (2020). His latest book Deep Are the Roots – Trailblazers Who Changed Black British Theatre was recently published by The History Press. For further information about Stephen and his books, go to his website