It was lovely to hear from one of our previous Bader Grant Recipients, Nicola Lane, with the Autumn Newsletter from Pegleg Productions, the link for which can be found at the bottom of this post.
Nicola, an amputee since 1968 following a road traffic accident, is an artist and film maker and creator of Pegleg Productions.
You may remember that we published a post on Pegleg Productions in November 2020 when Nicola was involved in her latest work, Searching for the Grey Lady: A Ghost from WW1 at the RNOH.
In June 2019 Pegleg Productions had started to work with participants to identify, film and document memories, artefacts and archives relating to the founding and evolution of the RNOH Stanmore, from the establishment of Mary Wardell’s Convalescent Home for Scarlet Fever in 1883, through financial crisis and the First World War, to Miss Wardell’s death in 1917 and the sale of the hospital to form the RNOH ‘Country Branch’ in 1922.
Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, has had a fascinating history: in 1884 it enjoyed a triumphal opening as a Convalescent Home for victims of Scarlet Fever, thanks to the vision and determination of one woman: Miss Mary Wardell. Sadly, despite heroic efforts by Mary Wardell and her team to keep “The Mary Wardell Convalescent Home for Scarlet Fever” going, just 5 months later, on Christmas Day, she wrote “with a heavy heart” of the financial crisis threatening her beloved hospital. Christina Rossetti, a contemporary of Mary Wardell, wrote a beautiful Christmas poem, “In the Deep Midwinter”, which was subsequently set to music by Holst, the same year. The RNOH former Chief Operating Officer, Lucy Davies, saw parallels with the “deep Midwinter” of December 2020 and the challenges faced by today’s hospital after a year of COVID.
In 2020, COVID also sadly brought Nicola and her team’s project to an abrupt close when it halted all contact with participants and closed access to the RNOH making ongoing research impossible. However, a grant from The Culture Recovery Fund in November 2021 meant she was able to resume work:
A lifeline grant from the Culture Recovery Fund enabled us to re-purpose ‘Searching for the Grey Lady’ in response to Lockdown. Nicola Lane – Creator of Pegleg Productions
She worked in creative collaboration with RNOH hospital radio, Radio Brockley, to develop a series of Podcasts, to share the remarkable story of the RNOH from its founding in 1884 and evolution through the First World War and its aftermath, creating an atmospheric audio narrative utilising archives discovered during their explorations.
The Autumn Newsletter from Pegleg Productions gives access to more information and also to the Podcasts, which are composed of contemporary accounts in newspapers and archives discovered during explorations at the RNOH. They are performed by RNOH staff, clinicians, patients and the whole spectrum of those involved with the hospital, reading excerpts from the archives and recording their readings at home on their phones.
“Searching For the Grey Lady: A Ghost From WW1 at the RNOH” is a beautifully collated and fascinating glimpse into the previously unknown history of one of our top Orthopaedic Hospitals and a journey through the background material and podcasts revealed in this Newsletter is highly recommended.
The link to the Autumn Newsletter from Pegleg Productions can be found below. Our congratulations to Nicola for creating such an interesting and valuable piece of work. We’re very proud to be associated with her.
(Banner image taken from an original photograph by Nicola Lane)
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