The University of Huddersfield’s new £60 million Health & Wellbeing Academy is to be named after an inspirational nurse who became Britain’s first black matron.

The new building, planned for the former Huddersfield Sports Centre site in Southgate, will be a permanent home for the university’s Health & Wellbeing Academy which will move across from the main campus.

It will be the first of six buildings on the pioneering £250 million National Health Innovation Campus which will be instrumental in training the next generation of nursing and health professionals.

The university has announced that the building will be named after Daphne Steele, an inspirational nurse and midwife who became the first black matron in Britain.

Daphne trained at St James’ Hospital in Balham, South London, after emigrating to the UK from Guyana in 1951. She worked in the US but returned to the UK and served as a nurse at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire before moving to Manchester as deputy matron at a nursing home.

When that home closed, she was encouraged to apply for the position of matron at St Winifred’s Hospital in Ilkley, West Yorkshire. She became the first black matron in Britain and her appointment made news around the world.

Daphne Steele

University Vice-Chancellor Prof Bob Cryan said: “I am delighted with this latest development, and it is another significant step towards our goal of improving health outcomes and leading innovation in healthcare for the North of England.

“It is an honour to have this first building named after Daphne Steele and I would like to thank her family for this. Such a ground-breaking figure is sure to inspire our students in their future careers.”

The National Health Innovation Campus will work with partners across the region to address some of the health and wellbeing issues facing Yorkshire and the Humber, including high levels of obesity, the third lowest life expectancy for men and women and the second highest rate of deaths in infancy.

The campus will feature specialist clinical teaching facilities, world leading research facilities and will house clinics open to the public. It will deliver a major boost to regeneration and jobs and could have around 2,000 people based there eventually.

In terms of construction and design it will be one of the most advanced buildings on any university campus and will be built to the WELL Building Standard which ensures every aspect of the build takes into account human health and wellbeing.

Site preparation works have started and construction is due to begin in 2023 for completion in 2024.