Thousands of photos showing the care provided at a veteran’s hospital since the end of the First World War have been collected into an archive celebrating a centenary of support given to service personnel.
In 2013, a volunteer at the Queen Alexandra Hospital Home (QAHH) in Worthing, West Sussex, discovered more than 3,000 photographs packed away in boxes in the attic.
As staff at the hospital, which was last year renamed Care For Veterans, examined the photographs they found a visual chronicle of the hospital’s services since it was founded in 1919 including never-before-seen images of Queen Alexandra, King George V and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
Many of the photographs date back to the hospital’s original site at Gifford House, Roehampton, before it relocated in 1934 to Worthing.
During the First World War, hospitals were created to treat returning soldiers but the QAHH was established at the end of the war as it became clear that many of those injured would need ongoing rehabilitation and care.
The photo archive shows how makeshift wards were fashioned from ballrooms, the type of wheelchairs used by veterans as well as the social activities they participated in along with the emergence of occupational therapy.
Elizabeth Baxter, head of fundraising and marketing at Care For Veterans, said: “We were set up to care for those returning from the horrors of the First World War, it was a really important decision to look after those who had come back and not just forget about them.
“The photo archive lets people see what happened, to see those who came back with no legs and arms aged just 17 or 18 and the care given to them, so we do not forget our history.
“Our facilities are modern now and very different to how they were but we are still caring for those who are brave enough to stand up and be counted.
“We have moved on with the type of care we can provide but we were set up with the same ethos to care for people who have put their lives on the line and give them the very best quality of life they deserve.”
Creating the archive, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, in time for the 100th anniversary of the end of the war and the foundation of the QAHH has taken a team at the hospital more than a year.
It has involved digitising and preserving the original photographs and creating photo canvases to display some of the images as well as creating a number of resources to take out into the community.
More details can be found at https://www.careforveterans.org.uk/about-us/photo-archive/
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