Born in 1805, Mary Seacole spent her formative years in Jamaica. Her father was a white Scottish army officer, while her mother was black. Seacole's mother was a healer who used traditional Jamaican medicines, and as a youngster, Seacole inherited this passion. She used her dolls to practise medicine and became her mother's keen student.
In 1821, she began to travel the world, soaking up medical knowledge at each stop. She sailed to England and asked to be an army nurse to wounded British soldiers in Crimea (now part of Ukraine). The War Office refused her request. Undaunted, she funded her own trip and set up the British Hotel - a place of respite for sick soldiers. She also nursed the wounded on the battlefield.
The soldiers dubbed her 'Mother Seacole' and back in Britain, her popularity rivalled Florence Nightingale.