Professor Elizabeth Anionwu CBE has been with the Sickle Cell Society right from the beginning: she was with us when we were first set up in 1979, and volunteered her time raising awareness and providing information for many years. Even after stepping down from the Board, she has been a long-time friend to the Society and is currently a Patron. She has also been instrumental in improving sickle cell services, working hard for the sickle cell community as the only nurse in the first centre for Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia Information, Screening and Counselling here in Brent, and having chaired projects for the Screening Programme over the years. She received a CBE for her services to nursing in 2001, having previously turned down an MBE in 1985 because she did not feel the government was doing enough for the sickle cell community.
Elizabeth Anionwu’s services to the sickle cell community alone make her a noteworthy and fascinating woman, but that’s only part of the story. She has lived a fascinating life, from growing up among nuns to successfully campaigning for recognition of Mary Seacole in the form of a statue. You can now read her history in her own words in her new book, “Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union“.
Mixed Blessings is a personal memoir, full of warmth and love, insight and truths. Woven into her personal story is a social history of growing up mixed race in the 1940s and 50s, along with a look at how nursing has changed over the years: and how Elizabeth herself made the changes she needed to see. Elizabeth’s life has not been without challenges, and yet she has overcome so much. Mixed Blessings is a gripping and inspirational read, showing just how much can be achieved by anyone, from any background. We at the Sickle Cell Society recommend it to anyone: you are bound to find something to relate to and something to inspire you in equal measures.
We are grateful to Elizabeth Anionwu for fighting our corner for decades, and are proud to know her.