Friday, May 29, 2009

Children of Craigynos

We are staying in a cottage in Llanigon belonging to Pollly Rogers and she tells me that a friend of hers has a relative who was interviewed by me for the book"Children of Craig-y-nos". They want to buy a copy. A signed copy.

Archbishop of Canterbury at Hay Festival

Last night the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and Desmond Tutu attended service in St Mary's church.

We arrive late. Very late. We are ushered through to the front pew marked "reserved" along with some other late-comers.

Afterwards a Catholic priest asks who we are. (Folk think we are celebrities from the Hay Festival.)
"Sorry, we are just late-comers!"
The priest is disappointed.

The Archbishop - who was a mere 5 yards from me - spoke about love and the power of healing. Afterwards I joined the queue to shake his hand.

You just never know what is going to happen at Hay next....

Dannie Abse

Dannie Abse, Wales' greatest living poet, gave a reading of poems from his new book before a rapt audience.

One woman dares to chatter to her companion while he searches for the next poem and he whips his specs off and glares in her direction. She goes bright red and never says another word.

Afterwards I join the queue to get my two books signed.

Except in the queue I am joined by Arnold Whesker and his entourage of friends behind me. My courage fails me. No way could I begin to explain about Craig-y-nos with Whesker standing behind me.
So I wave them through.

In fact when I look at the long queue I decide to wait until the last.

Finally I am face to face with Dannie Abse.
He is charming.
He expresses surprise at the book "Children of Craig-of-nos" ( " I don't know anything about this") so I explain that it has only just been published and I show him his quote which Carole Reeves had picked to introduce the book.

He's delighted. He accepts a copy and he seems genuinely pleased to receive it.

Then he signs the two books: one for Carole and one for myself.

For Dannie Abse was a doctor, a chest specialist, before he became a poet.

Internet access

First of all a moan about internet access at Hay. It is atrocious! dont know what they have done to it but in previous years there was no difficulty updating blogs on Festival site.

Now its a hit and miss operation. Mainly miss...
So its up to the Hay Tourist Office, join queue for computer then the agonising slow wait as the computer boots up and you try to connect...all the time the minutes and money is ticking away.

Oh yes and the Tourist office closes at 5pm so no chance of using it in the evening.

Come on Hay Festival- you can do better than this! and to compound the problem I cant use Twitter either because my Iphone is on O2 and this is an orange mobile phone area.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dannie Abse

Dannie Abse will be talking later today. Have just bought his book and will give him

a copy of "The Children of Craig-y-nos". We have a quote by him in the book:

"TB I've got
You know what TB signifies?
Totally buggered. He laughed.

His sister cried."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mari Friend

Mari Friend ( nee Jenkins) with her husband, Peter, and Ann Shaw (nee Rumsey)at the book launch"Children of Craig-y-nos" in Craig-y-nos Castle.

Says Ann:"We were children in Craig-y-nos together. It is great to meet up with so many friends again."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hay Book Festival

Delivered books -"The Children of Craig-y-nos"-to Welsh book stand at Hay Festival.
They have sold three today and I have more back in my rented cottage - thanks to Carole Reeves sending them in advance from London though they are intended for the Brecon museum later in the week.

Scorching hot weather in Hay. Town sold out of sunscream and the public loos next to the Tourist Information Office only flush intermittently.

The London literrati who have decamped here for the week are not amused.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cynthia Mullan, director of the Sleeping Giant Foundation and Len Ley, local historian at the launch of the book "The Children of Craig-y-nos" in the restored Glass Conservatory of Craig-y-nos Castle

Some people are having difficulty ordering 

 'The Children of Craig-y-nos' through local bookshops.

Dr Carole Reeves has asked me to point out that:

 "'The Children of Craig-y-nos' is available through bookshops and on Amazon

( if you prefer to order online. 

If your local bookshop tells you that they don't know how to order it (as happened to someone

recently) tell them to contact their wholesaler quoting the book's ISBN

number. This is ISBN-13: 978-0-85484-126-4. This number is unique to the

book and will identify it immediately.

There are two wholesalers who will be able to supply the book. These are and  

Most bookshops will deal with these


(photo: Karen Howard)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Children of Craig-y-nos - a healing project

(book launch) - photo Karen Howard

Many people are telling me how they found being involved with the Children of Craig-y-nos project a healing process.

For the first time, and I include myself, we were able to talk about those experiences in childhood which had been buried deep in our minds, dark secrets from the past which we dared not talk about.  Now it has all been brought out into the open and we realise that it is no longer a taboo subject,  and we feel healed by the process of being able to talk and share these experiences with others who went through it .

"Children of Craig-y-nos"by Ann Shaw and Carole Reeves, published by The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, price £9.99p
available online through,  as a free PDF file

Val's newsagent in Ystradgynlais - I have just heard that they sold out of the books as they were being unpacked and they have placed another order!

Any bookshop will order the book for you. If there is any difficulty the ISBN number is : 
ISBN -10: 0-85484-126-1 

Alternatively, ring Carole Reeves: 02076.798 135 or write to her:
Dr Carole Reeves,
The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine,
183 Euston Rd.,

One reason we sold out so quickly at the book launch was that people were buying them up as Christmas presents!  in the end we had to say that ex-patients had priority.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

More launch photos-at Craig-y-nos Castle

Malcolm Shaw ( Ann's husband ) who was responsible for digitising and "cleaning" all the photographs with Gwen Jones, a  family friend from Llanbedr.

Pam Hamer ( nee Osmond) who was a child in plaster duringthe late 1940s out on the balcony and woke one night to find a rat running up inside her bed. " I felt its long tail against my face I screamed and the night nurse appeared.  She told me it was Joey the pet rat from the kitchen who had come to see me."

"The Children of Craig-y-nos" is available  online from or Dr Carole Reeves:  02076 798 135. Alternatively any bookshop will order it for you.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ann and Carol signing books at the launch of "The Children of Craig-y-nos".

(photo: Karen Howard)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Christine and Beryl at book launch

Christine Perry ( nee Bennett) and Beryl Rowlands ( nee Richards)  at the book launch of "The Children of Craig-y-nos".

(Photo: Karen Howard)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

1950s- Pat and Ann - Craig-y-nos Castle

Pat Stickler ( nee Moore) and Ann Shaw ( nee Rumsey at the book launch.*

Says Pat: " I was in the bed next to Ann when she came in.  I was told not to frighten her with ghost stories because she was too ill."

*"The Children of Craig-y-nos" by Ann Shaw and Carole Reeves  is available online at or direct from Dr Carole Reeves: 02076 798135

Monday, May 11, 2009

1940s Reunion at book launch

Nurse Glen with ex patient Roy Harry

All from the 1940s ex- patients (left to right) Christine Raybold, Vera Blewett and Roy Harry with nurse Valerie Brent (extreme right)

Megan Thomas ( 1941-1944) " I came out just after my 17th birthday"

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Book signing - Craig-y-nos Castle

Dr Carole Reeves, Outreach Historian with the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London and Ann Shaw co-authors of the book "The Children of Craig-y-nos" * signing copies of the book at the recent launch in the restored Glass Conservatory in the Castle.

Some of the people present had been child patients in the Conservatory.

* Book available online from or

Dr Carole Reeves
Outreach Historian
The Wellcome Trust Centre
for the History of Medicine at UCL
183 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE

Or Val's newsagent, Ystradgynlais

Free PDF file to download from

(photo: Karen Howard)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Launch top story on UCL site

Our book launch of "The Children of Craig-y-nos" is the top story on the University of London online site. Follow this link

Roy Harry

Roy Harry at the book launch in Craig-y-nos Castle

Roy as a child after his time in Craig-y-nos.

In the book "Children of Craig-y-nos" Roy wrote an account of his experience of having a gastric lavage.
This is the procedure whereby a child was held, often by more than one nurse, while another pushed a tube down the child's throat to extract fluids from the stomach.

This was then injected into guinea pigs. If the guinea pigs lived you were cured and could go home.

He says of his 18 months in Craig-y-nos:" I went home singing in Welsh with nits in my hair."

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Free download of "Children of Craig-y-nos"

You can download "Children of Craig-y-nos" for free by clicking on the following link:

Then click on 'free download' in the text.

Or you can order a copy online from

A newsagent in Ystradgynlais has expressed an interest in stocking the book because so many customers have already asked for it. We will let you know when she has them.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Fifty years on: Children of Craig-y-nos- book launch

(from left to right) Christine Perry ( nee Bennett), Valerie Brent ( ex- nurse) and Beryl Richards ( nee Rowlands)

Christine has just forwarded me this photograph taken at last Friday's book launch so I thought it would be fun to put in photos of the time when they were in Craig-y-nos - over 50 years ago.

Christine in playful mode on the balcony of Ward 2 ( 1956)

Beryl with Tosca, the pony belonging to Dr Williams' daughters that the teenage patients used to ride using their dressing-gown girdles as halters- strictly forbidden of course!

"The Children of Craig-y-nos" is available from

Monday, May 04, 2009

Photos from Book launch

(from left to right) Dr Carole Reeves, co-author and medical historian, Valerie Brent, ex nurse who worked at Craig-y-nos for two years as a teenager in the 1940s, Ann Shaw, ex-patient and co-author, Cynthia Mullane, director The Sleeping Giant Foundation, the local oral history charity who were very helpful in getting the project started.

Do you have photos from the book launch which you would like to share?
then send them on email to

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Book launch- Craig-y-nos Castle

Dr Carole Reeves ( left) and Ann Shaw in the Glass Conservatory the day before the book launch.

Our 200 books sold out within 2 hours! Clive Rowlands opened it at noon . He told the story of his time as boy on the balcony and how he kicked a rugby wall straight throw the French windows and got put in a straitjacket .

Cynthia Mullane of The Sleeping Giant introduced Carol and myself. The Sleeping Giant filmed the event. Lots of people took photos including my friend Karen Howerd from Scotland. Angela ( my neice) and her husband Roger sold the books while Carole Reeves and I signed them.

Caroline Boyce, (nee Havard) ex patient returning for the first time in 50 years had travelled from Scotland with her husband Paul and they helped at the launch by giving people name badges.

BBC journalist Geoff Ballinger interviewed many ex patients including Nurse Glenys Davies who was looking very well.

Barbara Pye now in her 80th year was there with two friends who used to visit her when she was in Craigynos as a young woman in 1947. Barbara was among the first in Britain to receive streptomycin.

It was also the first time back for Pamela Hamer and in my
introduction I told the story how she woke up one night on the balcony to find a rat I'm her bed!

Will post photos on blog on return to Scotland.

Says Carole: " We could have sold another 100 easily."

Don't worry if you didnt get a copy on the day. This is print-on-demand so we will never run out except for a few days.
Many people asked to be put on a list and we will contact you.

Meanwhile you can always get the book from
or ask your local bookshop to order it for you. Price £9.99