The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme

Margaret Graham (1860-1933)

 Margaret Manson Graham was born in Orphir in 1860.

By the age of 16 she was a pupil-teacher at Orphir Public School and shortly afterwards qualified as a teacher.

She later trained as a nurse and in 1895 became a volunteer for the Mission service in Calabar, Nigeria. As a missionary nurse she devoted her time to working with children.

She was one of the most pioneering of nurses and, when the government built a new hospital in Duketown for its officials and white traders, she was asked to take over as sister-in-charge.

Graham agreed to this while continuing to nurse and care for the sick of the native population.

In 1901 she received the Africa General Service Medal and, after ten years of service, was also awarded the Cross of the Order of St John for her devotion to duty during an uprising in northern Nigeria when she saw active service.

She retired in 1919 and came back to Orkney but, after just two years, she returned to Nigeria and spent her remaining years based at the Calabar Slessor Memorial Home.

She opened her own private dispensary, helping the sick, aiding the outcasts and helping to nurse sick babies.

She trained women in childcare and insisted that her salary went to pay for medicines at the mission where she worked.

Graham continued working until her death in 1933.

Memorial plaque to Margaret Graham in St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall

In 1964 her dedication to her work was acknowledged when a memorial plaque was unveiled in St Magnus Cathedral to commemorate the life and work of Orkney's "special missionary."