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Motivational Monday – Trailblazing Doctor

Class of 1880 alumna Dr Ellen Farrer was one of the first women to qualify as a Doctor.

As a pupil at South Hampstead, Farrer (second from left) achieved high grades and won academic prizes for her ability. Ellen went on to study at the London School of Medicine for Women, becoming one of the first women to qualify as a Doctor. During the late 1800s, it was rare for women to be able to take up posts in hospitals, and Ellen struggled to gain the necessary experience she needed. In 1890, she eventually obtained the post of Resident Medical Officer at the New Hospital for Women in the Euston Road.

In 1891, she applied for work as a missionary doctor with the Baptist Zenana Mission in Bhiwani, India. Travelling overseas enabled her to continue with her medical work and her ambition of building a new hospital. Ellen soon began running a small, 24-bed hospital in Bhiwani, but struggled to gain the trust of her patients who were uncertain of unknown medical equipment.

In 1923, The Farrer Hospital was built; Ellen spent ten years there. Her services were recognised twice by the Indian Government, who bestowed the Kaiser-I-Hind Silver Medal and later the Gold Medal of the same order. Even after her retirement in the UK, Ellen tended to injured soldiers. She passed away in 1959.

As as class of 1880 alumna, Ellen’s determination to succeed in a male-dominated sector makes her one of our earliest alumnae to lobby for women’s rights – a true South Hampstead girl.

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