A life in the care of RJAH

Reporter:

Harry Wright

 

A man who has spent nearly 80 years as a patient of the Orthopaedic Hospital has shared his story in a moving account.

Donald Harrison, of Shrewsbury, was brought to the Oswestry-based hospital from his home in London in 1940.

He is one of very few patients still alive who can recall being under the care of the hospital’s illustrious founder Dame Agnes Hunt, and he was also on site during the famous fire of 1948 that caused so much devastation.

His story comes as the hospital approaches the end of its Year of Celebration – marking 150 years since the birth of Dame Hunt and 160 years since the birth of co-founder Sir Robert Jones.

Donald said: “I was born with club foot and also deformity in my legs so my mother was advised to bring me to Orthopaedi for treatment.

“I was only two-years-old at the time; however my mother always told me the story of her handing me over to Dame Agnes Hunt who was expecting our arrival.”

In 1940, Dame Hunt was 74-years-old and had retired from clinical work but was still playing an extremely important part in the life of the hospital.

This visit resulted in Donald and his mother relocating to Shrewsbury permanently. The family lived in lodgings for around eight years, before being awarded a council house.

He continued: “I spent many of my childhood years at the Orthopaedic and have fond memories of my time in hospital.

“I was a patient on Ludlow Ward in 1948 when the fire broke out; I remember not really knowing what was going on.

“At the time, to us youngsters, it was very exciting being pushed down the long corridor by a nurse at a tremendous speed.”

Ludlow Ward wasn’t affected during the fire, because of it breaking out the other end of the corridor, but all patients were evacuated to either the Park Hall Military Camp or the Derwen College.

Donald is now 79 and has had a total of 35 operations, with the majority being at the hospital.

“It’s great to see the advancements in medical and orthopaedic procedures,” Donald added. “I am hugely thankful for the treatment and care I received over the years at the Orthopaedic.”

Mark Brandreth, chief executive, said: “Donald’s story is a reminder to all of us of the long and distinguished history of this hospital.

“I found it fascinating to read the account of his life in our care, and we will continue to look after him for as long as he needs us.”

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