Sunday, 6 September 2009

50th Anniversary Brochure - part 3


In 1948, under the terms of the National Health Service Act of 1946, the Marguerite Hepton Hospital became a National Health Service Hospital administered by the Leeds (Group B) Hospital Management Committee. Thus ended an era in the life of the hospital and the record of achieve­ment from its first beginning is impressive when it is remembered that the hospital was mainly dependent for financial assistance on voluntary efforts.

It is impossible in this chronicle to mention all the gifts and benefactors of the Society over the years, or the tremendous amount of work and time given voluntarily by members of the Committee and its many helpers. Briefly, the main sources of income during these years were from ' the Leeds City Council and the West Riding County Council in return for maintenance of patients in the hospital, annual subscriptions, donations, endowments, District Guilds all over the City of Leeds, Charity Balls, the Leeds University Students' Rag, Rotary Clubs; B.B.C. Appeals, Flag Days, Sewing Meetings, Garden Fetes, Christmas Markets and gifts of eggs (an average of 5,000 per year). A typical example of service to patients was the " Birthday Club," run for many years by the late Mrs. Stirk.

It is perhaps invidious to draw a distinction between the importance of these gifts but one deserving special mention was a gift scheme organised in 1925 by Mrs. Edward Lane-Fox, at one time Chairman of the Hospital Committee, and Mr. J. R. Cross, as a result of which 44 purses of £50 each were presented in the Majestic Picture House, Leeds, to Her Royal Highness, Princess Mary, who subsequently honoured the hospital with a visit. The final sum collected from this scheme was £3,700.


The visiting of' patients over the years has often been difficult, largely owing to the infrequent transport services. In the early days, visitors from Leeds attended by train; subsequently bus services made things easier, and a great deal is owed to the West Yorkshire Road Car Co., which has provided special buses from Leeds on Saturdays and Sundays and augmented normal weekday services as and when necessary. Many visitors also now come by car. Thus, visiting has expanded gradually since 1949, when two wards were opened to visitors each week, to daily visiting since April 1959. The Wetherby Division of the Women's Voluntary Service has undertaken the provision of light refreshments to visitors on Saturday afternoons.

There has always been a close association between the hospital and the Religious Bodies and the visiting Chaplains have found their work amongst the patients most rewarding. Religious instruction and services are necessarily carried out at the bedside, but in 1956 an Altar Cupboard and furnishing was fixed in the Physiotherapy Department so that more formal services could be held when occasion demanded.

The hospital, in spite of national control, has continued to enjoy support from all kinds of organisations in the district, and perhaps particular mention should be made of the achievement of the parents of patients and ex-patients, who promoted an appeal in 1954 to provide television sets on each of the four wards. £900 was raised and as a result seven sets were presented to the hospital by Mr. J. Wright, the Honorary Treasurer of the Fund. A radio relay system also operates, including headphones for the older children: as the B.B.C. Schools Broadcasts form part of the educational curriculum, the West Riding Education Committee contributed to the cost of this installation.

A sound cinema projector was given by Mr. E. Blackburn in 1949 for use of the hospital and film shows are given each week in the winter months; a good film library has now been built up, films having been purchased from time to time from donations received.

Other features of the patients' social life are the establishment of a Boy Scout Troop, a Girl Guide Company and a Cub Pack, which have been run most enthusiastically. One patient, Miss Shirley Slee, was awarded the Girl Guide's V.C. in 1951. It is a source of the greatest satisfaction to know that the boys and girls continue with these activities after discharge from hospital.

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