Mary Seacole portrait

Wartime Secret Agent And Crimean War Nurse Among New £50 Note Suggestions

World War Two radio operator Noor Inayat Khan and Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole are among names put forward to appear on the bank note.

Mary Seacole portrait

A portrait of Mary Seacole dated 1870 (Picture: DPA via PA).

World War Two secret agent Noor Inayat Khan and Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole are among those to be suggested for who should be the first ethnic minority face on a £50 bank note.

More than 200 people including stars, cultural leaders and politicians have added their voices to a campaign to put an historic figure from a minority ethnic background on the bank note.

The Bank of England in November appealed for public nominations for the new face to appear on the new polymer £50 note, with nominations closing on Friday.

Ms Khan was a British secret agent during the Second World War and is regarded by some as Britain's first Muslim war heroine.

She worked as a radio operator, before being captured by the Gestapo in France.

Noor Inayat Khan died at Dachau concentration camp in 1944 and was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1949.

Mary Seacole worked as an army nurse during the Crimean War.

Her father was a Scottish soldier and her mother a Jamaican nurse, who taught Mrs Seacole her nursing skills.

After approaching the War Office asking to be deployed to the conflict, and being refused, she made her own way and set up a 'British Hotel' behind the lines.

Noor Inayat Khan 1943
In 1943 Noor Inayat Khan began working in France under the codename 'Madeleine'.

The final choice will be made by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney in 2019.

Mr Carney has already indicated a scientist will be featured on the note.

In a letter to The Sunday Times the campaign calls on the Bank of England to "reflect modern multicultural Britain" by putting a person of colour on a note.

It said: "Ethnic minority communities represent 14% of the British population.

"We do not lack candidates, and arguably their achievements were the greater for having been made at a time when many careers were effectively closed to them, whether through colonial rules, racism, or the legacy of slavery.

"However, no one from an ethnic minority has yet featured on a banknote."

The campaign group said putting a hero or heroine from an ethnic minority background on the new notes would show their contribution to Britain was "valued and recognised".

It added: "Changing this would send a message that the contribution of ethnic minorities to Britain's history, culture and economy is recognised and valued.

"What better representation of "global Britain" could there be?"

Dr Wanda Wyporska, executive director of the Equality Trust, said: "It's time our black heroes and heroines were recognised for their contributions to our society.

"Now more than ever, we need to celebrate the rich diversity of UK society: representation on bank notes is a great way to do this."