By Sharon O’Connor
During WW2 the 4th Marquess of Normanby (1912-1994) had taught Braille to prisoners of war blinded in action. He said he was the only person who could read braille by sight and upside down. After the war he was involved in St Dunstan’s, the charity for blinded service personnel, before becoming chairman of the board of governors at King’s. He often personally intervened with cabinet ministers in order to defend King’s interests. He raised funds to endow a department and a chair of child health in 1968 and the (renamed) Normanby College of Nursing; he personally paid for its canteen.
Percy Lane Oliver, OBE, (1878-1944) lived in Colyton Road in East Dulwich. He was a librarian for Camberwell and a founder member and volunteer for the Camberwell Red Cross. During WW1 he was stationed at Crystal Palace with the Royal Naval Air Service and when off-duty he and his wife worked tirelessly, managing four refugee hostels in Camberwell for which he received an OBE in 1918. With his wife he established the voluntary blood transfusion service for King’s in 1922; it later became the National Blood Service. He ran this free service from Colyton Road, raising most of the running costs himself and also advising other countries who were setting up similar schemes. In particular, he advised that donors not be considered heroes, in order to counteract any ideas that giving blood was risky.
Pantia Ralli Ward
Originally named the Nightingale Ward, it was funded by the Nightingale Fund and entirely reserved for midwifery students: medical students were not allowed to enter. It closed in 1867 after a severe outbreak of puerperal fever and when it was ready to be reopened King’s wanted to make it a children’s ward but the Nightingale Fund disagreed and withdrew funding. Peter Pantia Ralli (1837-1868) stepped in and donated £6,000 in memory of his father, Pantia Stephen Ralli, nicknamed Zeus, a hugely successful Greek merchant and leader of the Greek community in London whose firm employed over 40,000 people at one time. In 1869 the ward reopened as the first specialist children’s ward in a general hospital. The new endowment ensured it was renamed Pantia Ralli ward but locally it was known as Pansher Alley. Peter Ralli himself died of consumption aged 31, leaving an estate of over £500,000; both father and son are buried at West Norwood. During a financial crisis the ward was leased to the Maudsley for psychiatric patients and when it reverted to King’s after WW2 it was no longer used as a children’s ward. It is now Cotton ward.
Philip Isaacs Day Treatment Ward
Philip Leonard Isaacs (1923-1995) opened Britain’s first bingo hall in 1961 and went on to create the Ritz casino. He was active in many charities but was especially generous to the Variety Children’s Hospital at King’s.
Princess Elizabeth Ward
Originally one of two children's wards, called the Wigram Department after Edward Wigram, hospital treasurer; the other was Pantia Ralli. In 1929 the Duchess of York visited and named a cot for her daughter, Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II. The whole ward was later renamed Princess Elizabeth.
Sir Max Rayne, Baron Rayne of Prince’s Meadow, (1918-2003) was born into a cultured but impoverished family of Polish migrants in the East End and attended Central Foundation School (a minor beneficiary of the Dulwich Estate). He became a hugely successful property developer and an outstanding philanthropist, giving away millions every year since the 1960s. He said ‘I don’t think there’s any merit in amassing huge fortunes…. if you’ve got it, it’s easy to give it away’. In 1979 he funded the £1.2m Rayne Institute for research which opened on a site reputed to have been occupied by Fred Karno’s army and Charlie Chaplin in WW1.
Rays of Sunshine Ward
Formerly the Mountbatten ward, it was renamed in 2009 following a £500,000 donation from the Rays of Sunshine Children’s Charity and specialises in paediatric liver conditions.
RD Lawrence Ward
Robert Daniel Lawrence (1892-1968), always known as Robin, joined King's in 1919. He developed diabetes following a serious infection caught while working in the post mortem department. At that time such a diagnosis was a death sentence. In 1923 Lawrence left King’s to go to Florence, believing he was soon to die and not wanting to be a burden on his family. However, insulin was discovered the same year. A colleague, Dr Harrison, sent him a telegram: ‘I’ve got insulin. It works. Come back quick’. Lawrence drove across Europe, reaching King’s in severe ketosis to become one of the world’s first recipients of insulin. It saved his life and he went on to play a leading role in diabetic research including founding the diabetic department at King’s in 1932 and researching how best to use insulin. With H G Wells, one of his patients, he founded the Diabetic Association. He was said to know all his patients by name and had a highly informal style, popular with patients but less so with the medical establishment who did not always appreciate formal letters being signed ‘Lorenzo il Magnifico’.
John Ruskin (1819-1900) was an art critic, writer and social reformer who spent his most creative years in the area. Nearby Ruskin Park is used as a landing site for the London Air Ambulance (until the King’s helipad is built).
Sam Oram Ward
Sam Oram (1913-1991) was born in Peckham and after leaving school he worked as a laboratory technician before winning an LCC scholarship to study medicine. He trained at King’s, qualifying in 1939 and winning several prizes including the medical school’s senior scholarship. In 1941 he was awarded London University’s gold medal for his doctoral thesis. After serving in WW2 he became a cardiologist at King’s. He was a superb teacher and his skill as a poker player (acquired in the army) was brought into use when questioning his medical students, many of whom went on to become consultant cardiologists themselves. With Mary Holt he was the first to describe a condition of limb abnormalities and congenital heart disease that became known as Holt-Oram syndrome. He introduced the technique of synchronised electrical defibrillation to the UK and helped establish open heart surgery at King’s. He lived in Dulwich from 1952-1983.
Thomas Godfrey Sambrooke (1839-1871) was chairman of the Eagle Insurance company and a vice-president of the hospital. He endowed a medical and surgical registrarship and left £10,000 to fund scholarships.
Sheikh Zaid Centre for Liver Research
In 1979 the president of the UAE, Sheikh Zaid bin Sultan Al-Nahiyan arranged for his government to fund a centre for liver research.
The surgeon, Robert Reeves Storks (1820-1902), left the hospital £60,000 in memory of his barrister father, Serjeant Henry Storks, who had himself been a supporter of the hospital.
Sylvia Henley Ward
Sylvia Laura Henley OBE (1882-1980) was a close friend of Winston Churchill and a cousin of his wife, Clementine; Churchill’s wartime diaries contain many references to her. She began running a children’s clinic before WW1, almost as a prototype health visitor. During WW1 she ran a canteen for war workers in the hospital. In 1920 she was asked to join the board of governors but this was not without controversy as there were objections to a woman governor. She did join however, and was a member until 1973. It was said she had an incisive mind, a forthright manner and inspected the hospital kitchens ‘like the C.O. of an army hospital’.
Thomas Cook Children’s Critical Care Centre
The centre was opened in 2008 thanks to donations from the staff and customers of the travel company Thomas Cook and the Variety Club Children’s Charity.
The Hospital owes its existence to Robert Bentley Todd (1809-1860), a doctor who became a professor at King’s medical school at the age of 27 when it had no teaching hospital. He bombarded the powers-that-be until, ‘seeing that Dr Todd would not be happy until he got it, and until Dr Todd got it we would have no rest’ they agreed to set up a teaching hospital. Todd then helped plan and fund it and also organised a major reorganisation of the medical school, establishing standards and disciplines which were then followed all over the world. He helped popularise the microscope as a means of diagnosis and was the first to describe cirrhosis of the liver. A renowned neuroscientist, he was the first to apply Faraday’s concept of electricity and magnetism to the brain and he developed the first electrical theory of epilepsy. His statue, which once stood in the entrance hall of the old hospital in Portugal Street can be found outside the Hambleden Wing on the Denmark Hill site. Todd’s name lives on in his prescription of a hot drink of brandy, cinnamon, sugar and water, known as a hot toddy. He took this prescription in great amounts himself and it undoubtedly contributed to his death from alcoholic cirrhosis, a disease he had himself researched and which at the time was called Todd’s Disease.
Toni & Guy Ward
The Toni and Guy Charitable Foundation was founded by Toni and Guy Mascolo, owners of the global hairdressing company. It donated £700,000 to renovate a ward as part of the Variety Children’s Hospital
George Trundle (1831-1923) was a wharfinger, an owner or manager of a wharf, at Bankside in Southwark who became a very successful businessman. Passing King’s one day in 1918 he saw a poster appealing for funds and donated £10,000 ‘as a thank-offering for his success in business’. The gift funded a men’s ward.
The 19th century tea merchants and bankers were the hospital’s bankers for many years. Samuel Twining (1853-1916) left the hospital a bequest to commemorate Richard (1772-1857) who was a member of King’s first committee of management. Many Twining family members served the hospital, in particular two of Richard’s daughters, Louisa (1820-1911) and Elizabeth (1805-1889), were great benefactors and social reformers. Louisa was a friend of Florence Nightingale, secretary of the ladies’ appeal committee and was instrumental in raising £10,000 for the second King’s building in Portugal Street.
Variety Children's Hospital
Variety, the children’s charity, undertook a major fundraising project which enabled the hospital to open the £2 million special hospital for children and young people in 1985. Originally three wards called Mountbatten, Butlin and Princess Elizabeth and an operating theatre, it now consists of a dedicated critical care centre, a day care unit, an outpatient department and four in-patient wards: Lion, Princess Elizabeth, Rays of Sunshine, and Toni & Guy.
Victoria and Albert Ward
Queen Victoria and Albert, the Prince Consort, gave permission for two wards to be named after them; oddly, the men's ward was named after Victoria and the women’s ward after Albert. They were provided for the sole use of Lord Lister and he made the condition that no other member of staff be allowed to use them, at the time it was the fashion to be able to say ‘my ward’. So many members of the public came to see Lister, especially to see him dress wounds in the wards, that it was necessary to print ward notices in three languages. Victoria and Albert became a single ward in 1913.
Victor Parsons Ward
Victor Parsons (1929-1995) was born in London but grew up in the Far East where his parents where missionaries. He studied at Oxford and Harvard before completing his medical training at King’s. Apart from national service and a short spell at Guy’s he spent his career at King’s where he set up the renal unit. He made many contributions to renal medicine, in particular he furthered the understanding of bone disease in long-term dialysis patients and he and his colleague, Peter Watkins, were pioneers in the treatment of kidney failure due to diabetes. He was very public-spirited and accepted patients who were refused treatment elsewhere, e.g. hepatitis B carriers. He was also active as a surgeon commander in the naval reserve. He retired early in 1989 and took a theology degree, was ordained and became vicar of All Saints in Upper Norwood. He continued to research and analyse medical data right up until his death from prostate cancer
In the 1880s £1,500 towards the cost of opening a ward at King's, was given ‘in memory of Anne Waddington, per Sir George Johnson’, her surgeon and friend. Johnson was a distinguished member of the medical faculty at King’s and one of Queen Victoria’s personal physicians. It was said that he divided the scientific world into two classes - those who agreed with him, and the others.
Edward Wigram (1802-1870) was treasurer of King’s in the 1860s. The two children’s wards, Princess Elizabeth and Pantia Ralli, were jointly known as the Wigram Dept.
William Bowman Ward
Sir William Bowman (1816-1892) trained at King’s, practised there until the 1860s and retained a connection with the hospital for the rest of his life. With Dr Todd he helped establish the St John’s House nurses at King’s and was a friend of Florence Nightingale, sending her trained nurses when she was out in the Crimea. A research scientist as much as a surgeon, he was a leading figure in using microscopes to study the human body and there are several structures named after him, such as Bowman’s glands and Bowman’s membrane. He devoted the early part of his career to research in anatomy and the later part to ophthalmology. At one stage he was London’s leading eye surgeon and he established the department of ophthalmology at King’s, probably its first specialist department.
William Gilliatt Ward
Sir William Gilliatt (1884-1956) joined King’s in 1916 and helped found its department of gynaecology and obstetrics. He was also a guiding light in the administration and organisation of the hospital as a governor, its first medically qualified vice-chairman and as acting chairman during the handover to the newly-formed NHS in the years leading up to 1948. He was known to pay particular attention to the needs of the nursing staff. He was obstetrician and gynaecologist to the royal household, attending at the births of Princes Charles and Princess Anne and consequently had a large private practice which included royal mothers around the world; it was said of him that he walked with queens but never lost the common touch and all the thousands of babies he brought into the world received the same care and attention.