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Plaque unveiled to Belfast war nurse on International Women’s Day

Volunteer nurse Emma Duffin pictured.

Belfast has honoured a local woman for her contribution as a volunteer nurse during two world wars on International Women's Day.

Emma Duffin's work saw her tend to the dying and injured across the globe and at home in the wake of the Belfast Blitz. On Wednesday she was honoured with a blue plaque in south Belfast.

Historian Trevor Parkhill commented: “Emma was a very redoubtable woman, well-educated but also well intentioned from a public service perspective.

“She devoted her life to soldiers, she admired the soldiers tremendously, she came back to Belfast and was involved in the council of social welfare so there was always this great sense that she was one of the lucky ones and she wanted to help people as far as she could.”

Emma Makin, Ms Duffin’s great-niece, told UTV: “She was quite a remarkable woman, and unfortunately I never met her, I wish I had, but she died before we came over. My father felt very close to her because she was a book illustrator and he was a graphic designer and I think she very much encouraged him along the artistic route.”

The plaque was unveiled outside what was once the Duffin family home on University Square.

Myrtle Hill is from the Ulster History Circle, which erects the blue plaques in honour of people that have contributed to local history.

She said: “It comes up again and again, the names of the families who lived here, many doctors, many professionals but there were also women like Emma Duffin and others who because of the privilege of their family situation were able to be educated and make their way out into the world at a time when that was quite difficult for most women.”

Emma's insightful and frank journals - charting her experiences - are held at the public record office and have helped paint a picture of wartime Belfast.

Later in life, she got involved in social welfare issues and became a book illustrator.

Emma Duffin passed away in 1979 at the grand age of 95. For many years she was something of an unsung hero - it seems fitting then that her life as a humanitarian has finally been recognised on International Women's Day.