The Children’s Ward Tortoise

AHPH 1_3_18I was recently contacted by a lady from Brisbane, Australia who asked if I could send her some “photos of Addenbrooke’s Hospital and staff around the 1950s”.

I have many photos in the Hospital Archives from this period of staff, building and wards.  After a few questions I found that she had been a patient in the hospital as a child from 1950-1958 and her specialists were Dr Douglas Gairdner and Dr Janet Roscoe, who she described as ‘two very kind and lovely people’.

She was only four when she was first admitted, but she said she had ‘memories of being in hospital, away from my family at such a young age, and they have stayed with me’.  She wanted to see photos of the children’s ward during those years, ‘so things may be put into some proportion. I am sure Addenbrooke’s is not the scary place it always appears in my mind’.

I sent her several copies of photos of the Children’s Ward and I offered to look in the in-patient registers to see if I could see the dates of her admissions.

I was able to find her admissions and confirm the dates to her then she told me this:

‘I know there were windows which opened onto a small garden, which was the only place my poor brother could wave to me. Children were not allowed to visit inside the hospital ward.

I was a very fretful child, so the matron allowed the ward Tortoise to live at the side of my bed for company. He lived in a large hatbox and was called Archibald. Funny how things remain in the memory for so long. These days I can’t remember where I left my reading glasses’.

Do you remember Archibald?

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