It is not easy to become a worldwide sensation, but that is exactly what happened to Daphne Steele in 1964, when she was appointed Head Matron of an NHS hospital.

She was the first person of African Heritage to hold that post in the UK. Her achievement was all the more remarkable, coming 16 years after the foundation of the NHS, and the arrival of the Windrush.

Born in 1929, in the Essequibo region of Guyana, Daphne was the eldest of nine children. From an early age she wanted to pursue a career in the medical profession, inspired by her father who worked as a qualified pharmacist.

In 1945, aged 16, Daphne started training as a nurse and midwife at the then public hospital in Georgetown, before immigrating to the UK in 1951 to start a fast-track training programme at St. James’ Hospital in Balham.

Her career took her to the United States in 1955 where she worked as a nurse for 5 years, before returning back to working in the NHS, first in Oxfordshire and then Manchester, where she became a Deputy Matron of a nursing home (also considered to be a first at that time).

Her qualities as a nurse and her engaging personality soon brought her to the attention of ‘powers that be.' So much so that when the position of Head Matron became available at a hospital in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, Daphne was encouraged to apply for the role.

The rest is history, because in 1964 she became Head Matron at St. Winifred’s Hospital, in the same historic building where Charles Darwin lived a century before.

June, her sister recalls: “Daphne was someone with the most heart- warming smile and a great sense of humour. She put 110% into everything she did, giving freely of her time and was always willing to help people.”

To recognise her achievement, the Nubian Jak Community Trust in partnership with the Association of Guyanese Nurses and Allied Professional, and London and Quadrant Housing Association, will be unveiling a commemorative Blue Plaque (on the former site of St James Hospital) to mark the 91st anniversary of the birth of Daphne Steele.