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Hospital memories brought to life
The memories and voices of hospital staff and volunteers, as gathered by University of Sussex researchers, are brought to life in a new archive at Brighton's Royal Sussex County Hospital.
The 'Our Hospital Our History' project, a collaboration between the University and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH), will be launched on Friday (29 July) to an invited audience, including many of those who contributed to the archive.
The launch will feature displays, booklets and presentations of highlights from the many hours of recorded material gathered by experienced oral historians and graduates of the Sussex MA in Life History Research.
The organisers hope that this will be the start of a much larger archive and intend to create a website and public exhibition for the material.
Project Manager Dr Sam Carroll said: "The hospital life stories that have emerged have not only been historically informative, they have also been at times heart warming, inspirational and frequently surprising. Sometimes they are very sad and sometimes extremely funny.
"We at the University of Sussex would like to thank each and every one of the 52 participants who helped us to create this wonderful oral history archive."
The memories include those of Stephanie Leslie, a student nurse at the Royal Sussex County Hospital from 1943-46, who was notorious for accidentally breaking thermometers and having to pay Matron sixpence for a new one each time.
Another participant, Margaret Saxby, recalls that, when she began her nursing training in 1938, the treatments had changed little since Victorian times. "There was no such thing as intravenous therapy, it was all rectal salines."
The project, directed by the Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research, focused on the five acute hospitals that are managed by BSUH: the Royal Sussex County Hospital; the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital; the Sussex Eye Hospital; Hurstwood Park Neurological Centre; and the Princess Royal Hospital.
Interviewees also shared recollections from other local hospitals, including Brighton General Hospital, St Francis Psychiatric Hospital in Haywards Heath, and Cuckfield Hospital, the predecessor of the Princess Royal Hospital.
Anna Barnes from BSUH said: "As plans for the redevelopment of the Royal Sussex County Hospital site progress, this project will form one of the cornerstones of the heritage programme; a programme that will help keep our hospitals' histories alive while we prepare to meet the healthcare challenges of the coming decades."