Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sue Wilson, Sydney Australia

This has just appeared on the BBC Mid-Wales web-site:

"Very interesting project- I recently watched a programme on ABC tv about a farm set up in Molong in Australia for children brought out from the UK to have the chance of a better life in Australia after WW11. The abuses there were kept secret for so long, but for many a chance at healing the memories has begun.
Fri Dec 4 11:26:37 2009 "

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ivy Stokes - St Brides

I pick up the phone in Scotland. It's a call from Newport in South Wales and a lilting Welsh voice asks about St Brides.

It's Ivy Stokes, searching for her missing Welsh history, time spent as a child in this TB sanatorium on the Pembrokeshire coast.

Did I know of anyone there? She would love to be able to talk to someone who had shared her experiences.

Ivy was a patient Kensington hospital 1941-45 age 10 years.

I give her David Pearce's phone number . He runs a blog for ex-patients.

I do not normally carry stories about other sanatoriums but Ivy's account is so similar to the Craig-y-nos experience that I thought it worth telling it here although I am sure David will be running it on his blog too.

Ivy Stokes asked her granddaughter if she would help her search on the internet for Kensington Hospital.
“ I would love to meet someone who was there the same time as me,” says Ivy, age 77 from Newport.

“I was there as a 10 years old from 1941 for three and a half years. After I left my mother wouldn’t let me keep in contact with any of the other children. TB was all “ hush hush “ in those days and she was afraid of bringing it back into the house again.”

Now suffering form osteoporosis and arthritis she finds herself thinking about those early days as a child in plaster out on the balcony in Kensington hospital.

“I remember shivering from cold and how we used to pray for it to rain so that we would be wheeled back indoors again.”

She also remembers being strapped to the bed.
“ It was for my own good. It was to make me keep still”.

She remembers being in the Girl Guides, and the day World War 2 ended.
“There was a party. Everyone kept saying” the war has ended the war has ended.”

On returning home at 13 half years of age she went back to school for six months.

“ Nobody talked about TB then. It was all “ hush hush”. But it leaves a mark on you as a patient. I keep myself to myself. I am quiet. I am not a good mixer.

“I got a job in a factory sewing shirts. Then I got married and had two children. Now I have six grandchildren.”

If you were in Kensington in the early 1940s then Ivy would love to hear from you.

Her phone number is: 01633 768651

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reunion - in dancing class!

(From left to right) Doug and Joyce Herbert, Roy Harry and Val Filby.

Two boys who were in Craig-y-nos during the war met up again - in a dancing class in Cwmavon!!

Roy Harry says:
"We recently joined a new dancing class in our village. There were no familiar faces, until Doug & Joyce Herbert walked in.

We couldn't place them immediately but then remembered we had met them at the first Craig y Nos reunion.

If we hadn't met at the reunion over two years ago in Craig-y-nos we would not have realised that we were together in ward 1
during the war! "

Roy Harry gives a very moving account of how as a child of three he had a gastric lavage and Doug Herbert tells how he was force-fed cabbage until he was sick.

Both stories are in the book:"The Children of Craig-y-nos" by Ann Shaw and Carole Reeves, price £9.99. available from all good bookshops and online from Amazon.co.uk

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Dr Frank Wells-First Medical Superintendent at Craig-y-nos

Chris Willey, from Gloucestershire, grandson of Dr Frank Wells the first medical superintendent at Craig-y-nos, discovered our web-site and contacted me to see if we have any information on his maternal grandfather.

I could only refer him to our book "The Children of Craig-y-nos" and the research carried out by Carole Reeves.

She discovered that Dr Wells was appointed in 1921 but left in 1926 due to illness to be replaced by two young Scottish women doctors, Dr Lizzie Robertson Clark and her assistant Dr Sarah Walker.

He qualified at St Mary's hospital, London, in 1911.

Chris says:" I never knew him as he died before I was born but my mother used to play at the castle as a child (she was born in 1915 so I assume it would have been in the early twenties) especially in the theatre where the opera singer Adelina Patti sung."

Chris added in another email:

"About twenty five - thirty years ago I took my mother (who died in 2001) down to Craig-y-nos. We were very fortunate that when we were there a person who worked there struck up a conversation with my mother, the end result being that he showed us all round the place. Obviously quite a lot had changed but she recognised a lot. Her biggest thrill was to be shown around the theatre where she used to play as a child.

Frank Wells was a medical missionary in Southern India and shortly after he married he and his wife went out to India. My mother was actually born there (in 1915) and at the age of 5 the family returned to England for my mother's education. I believe Craig-y-nos was his first UK appointment on his return.

This visit to the Castle was, I believe the only time she went back there since her childhood but she used to speak about her time there with very fond memories - she adored her father, her relationship with her mother was of a much more "formal" nature."

"The Children of Craig-y-nos" by Ann Shaw and Carole Reeves, published by The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, UCL, price £9.99p