University of Edinburgh: Tartan honouring nursing is woven with gratitude

A tartan incorporating the colours of Scotland’s national nurse uniform has been created by nursing students and is the first of its kind to celebrate the profession.

The woven cloth features shades of blue with burgundy detail to echo the official outfits worn by NHS nurses, healthcare assistants and student nurses across the country.

The tartan was conceived by Nursing Studies students at the University, home to the UK’s first nursing degree.

Tartan group
The Nursing Now – Edinburgh Nursing Studies tartan symbolises identity, kinship and solidarity for nurses, according to its registration with the Scottish Register of Tartans.

Celebrating nursing
The colourful project has been developed in partnership with Nursing Now – a global campaign established in 2018 to promote nursing and its vital role in improving health and transforming heathcare – and as part of the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, which was designated by the World Health Organisation in 2020 to celebrate and enhance nursing.

The tartan’s launch helps mark the first NHS, Social Care and Frontline Workers’ Day, and the 73rd anniversary of the NHS.

Jamie Smith, a nurse at NHS Lothian and a PhD student at the University, and Georgia Duffy, a former student at Edinburgh and also a nurse in practice at NHS Lothian, initiated the idea for the tartan and its design.

Tartan is such a symbol of kinship which is synonymous with Scotland. We thought by creating this special tartan just for nurses it could help recognise their contribution – a way to support those who are always there to support us.

Jamie Smith
PhD student and nurse
A range of tartan merchandise – including facemasks, lambswool scarfs, shawls, stoles, wraps and tartan ties have been developed.

The products have been curated and finished by Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers – an exclusive kiltmaker and stockist of tartan on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. The Kiltmakers also manage the marketing and distribution of The Nursing Tartan, which is exclusively available from the nursing tartan website. ,

The cloth is woven at the world-renowned mill, Lochcarron of Scotland.

People can also show their support for nurses with a charity tartan ribbon available for purchase on the Nursing tartan website.

Capturing the essence of nurses and nursing was paramount to us on the creation of the tartan. Using the national uniform colours achieves this through highlighting the diversity within the workforce. Anyone can wear the tartan and we hope everyone will and can.

Georgia Duffy
NHS Lothian nurse
Sales of the products will help raise funds for projects which will equip nurses and midwives to tackle global healthcare challenges.

Proceeds will also support The Burdett Trust for Nursing, a charitable trust which funds a range of projects to empower nurses and make significant improvements to the patient care environment.

The Burdett Trust provides support for the Edinburgh Global Nursing Initiative – a University project launched in 2020 which connects nurses worldwide to share research, innovations and knowledge to boost people’s health outcomes.

The global initiative’s pioneering projects have a focus on innovating nursing and midwifery in areas where health systems are affected by challenges such as disease outbreaks, poverty and conflict.

The Burdett Trust for Nursing is thrilled to be part of this wonderful initiative from nurses to nurses. The tartan created by the students represents a symbol of unity for nurses across the globe. We are proud to be part of the philanthropic nature of this endeavour where nurses in the UK and globally will continue to be supported.

Shirley Baines
Chief Executive Officer of the Burdett Trust
The tartan initiative and related fund raising activity will continue to develop with the input of students based in the University’s School of Health and Social Sciences.

It has been an honour and pleasure to work with Jamie and Georgia, especially at a time where now more than ever we are aware and appreciative of all the hard work and good nurses do – where would we be without them. We pulled together all of our expertise and esteemed colleagues in the tartan industry to make The Nursing Tartan project a reality and will continue to do this as well as bringing new and exciting products as the story of the tartan continues. So far, and in a very short space of time, the response to the tartan has been phenomenal – nurses, former nurses, supporters of nurses all purchasing a product to proudly show their support. We have no doubt that this wonderful response and uptake will continue and we work hard to keep driving the tartan forward.

Emma Wilkinson
The Nursing Tartan Manager, Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers
Scotland is a world-leading place to study, research and practice as a nurse. The nursing tartan is a wonderful initiative of our students’ to recognise and celebrate the role and sphere of frontline healthcare workers.

Professor Aisha Holloway
Head of Nursing Studies
For more than six decades, the University has helped raise the status and professionalism of nursing, beginning with the introduction of the first Nurse Teaching Unit at a British university in 1956.

The University is also home to the UK’s first nursing degree, the UK’s first nursing research unit, and Europe’s first Professor of Nursing Studies.