Thursday, April 10, 2008

Community kindness

"Craig-y-nos...a neo-Gothic pile"

Throughout the children's stories of their time in Craig-y-nos runs a thread, weaving like gold, of parents dedication to their sick children and the support they got from their own community in their struggle to make the monthly visiting.

- the village that collected all its sweet coupons so that one mother could buy chocolates and biscuits for her daughter. She fed them to her during visiting except the child was promptly sick with so much rich food!

- the parents who cycled throughout all seasons over the Black Mountains from Aberdare to Craig-y-nos, a journey which even today in good weather on modern machines would be a challenge.

-the postman who saw a heavily pregnant woman crying at the bus-stop because she had just missed the connection up the valley to Craig-y-nos and he disobeyed all Post office protocol by stopping and putting her in the back of the van and drove her to the hospital.

- the Swansea newsagent who kept all damaged comics to send to the children at Craig-y-nos.

- the mother that brought a bottle of sea water for her daughter to smell because she so missed the sound and smell of her home village by the sea.

- the mother who could only visit twice a year because she was “on the parish” and that is all they would allow.

In theory Craig-y-nos Castle looked like an ideal place for a sanatorium: a beautiful castle set amongst clean mountain air.

But how did the medical authorities think parents were going to visit? or didn't they care?
Also, was there not an element of Craig-y-nos being used as a “dumping ground” for those whom society were not sure what to do with? Many children have come forward who did not have TB in the first place yet they spent years there.

It is hard not to reach the conclusion that in reality Craig-y-nos was closer to a rat-infested, inaccessible neo Gothic pile, cut off from the community and inappropriate to be used as a children's hospital.

One child, Pam, then aged 8 recalls becoming hysterical after finding a rat in her bed. The night nurse comforted her by saying:”Its Joey, the pet rat from the kitchen. He just wants to say good night to you.”

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