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Happy memory of old hospital
Everyone may be busy celebrating the opening of the new Royal Alex but the old hospital in Dyke Road will not be forgotten completely.
For more than 120 years the site has done its job well. There are many in Brighton and Hove and beyond who remember and acknowledge it with affection and gratitude.
People recognise the need to look to the future and realise the new development has so much going for it.
But it is a bitter-sweet moment for some as they realise the old building will soon be gone, converted into flats.
Countless people from all over Sussex - and further - have worked at the old Alex, been treated there or had family members treated there.
It may not be suitable for 21st century health care. It may be small, cramped and a bit dilapidated. But the care and support it has shown to thousands of children over the years will always be remembered.
The Royal Alex is held with huge affection and regard in the hearts and minds of those connected with it.
While they are looking ahead to the future, there will surely always be a sense of fondness and reflection about the distinctive old building that has served them so well.
Carole Gordon from Uckfield said: "In late October, 1993, my daughter Kana was hospitalised for asthma in Taffe ward, one of many occasions.
"She loved going there as the staff were wonderful and so was the play room.
"On this occasion, I got chatting with a man called Steve who was there with his son. We got on really well.
"The following morning I went to the parents and staff canteen for breakfast and found two slices of nicely browned toast had just popped out of the toaster so I took them. A few moments later the nice man from the previous evening appeared looking for his toast. You can imagine my embarrassment.
"However, once we'd stopped laughing we sat together for breakfast and kept each other company over the next few days in the play room. We were both single, having separated from our partners.
"He left the hospital before I did and I remember that sinking feeling as I realised I would probably never see him again. However fate stepped in and he returned, having left something behind.
"I summoned up all my courage and approached him with a very feeble excuse and managed to get his number. Weeks later I plucked up courage again to phone him. The rest, as they say, is history. We are now happily married with a six-year-old son of our own. We are really sad to see the Royal Alex close down."
Diane Allen, from London, said: "When I was 12 in 1959, I was on holiday in Brighton with my parents and my two sisters.
"We had been staying in a guest house on a week's holiday and it was our last night there before going home the next day.
"In the middle of the night I went into my parents feeling vaguely unwell with a terrible stomach ache and, with the associated symptoms, it transpired I had acute appendicitis.
"I was rushed to the Royal Alex and admitted.
"My parents were distraught as they had to leave me there. They had a long drive back to Bristol.
"I remember not minding at all. I got visited by the local vicar and almoner and the staff were very kind to me.
"I recovered well and was allowed to help to bathe little babies on the ward. It was also how I found out I was allergic to penicillin. I pointed out an itchy rash on my chest following injections I was being given and, suddenly, no more.
"It was a fun experience and didn't put me off Brighton at all. In fact, I'm there very regularly."
Vera Chick, of Brighton, said: "When our son Alan, who is now 52, was three years old, I unfortunately turned round quickly and scalded his foot.
"My husband Gordon rushed him to the Royal Alex and he was kept in for about a month.
"To keep his spirits up, my husband used to stand on the letter box on the corner of the road opposite and wave to him as he was able to see him from his ward window.
"Every time we go past the hospital we have a laugh about this and the letter box is still there."
Beryl Coles, from Sussex, said: "In the early Seventies our son was admitted to the Royal Alex with asthma and cross-infection of atopic eczema.
"For many years there were sleepless nights, medicine to sedate him, creams and ointment on his bleeding and sore body, bandages taped so that his fingers could not reach his skin plus puffers and a nebuliser to help his breathing. The staff helped our Michael and gave him so much kindness and love.
"He missed a lot of schooling and suffered mickey taking from some pupils. In the winter all his little face and every knuckle broke open and cracked on his hands and if he got hot he would scratch.
"His health affected all the family but our love got us through. To this day we thank the Royal Alex and appreciate all the care and attention on Taffe Ward."
John Dine, from Brighton, said: "Back in the late Forties and early Fifties I had to go to the Royal Alex at least twice a day, once before school and after, to have deep breathing and physical exercises due to very bad asthma.
"I remember there were about 20 to 30 children in the class.
"You started at the back and as you got better you moved up until you got to the front, then you had to show the new ones what to do.
"I hope the new hospital lives up to the old one's standard."
Stephen Hazell, from Brighton, said: "We lost our daughter, Pamela Hazell to cancer 11 years ago when she was 13 years old.
"We spent eight months living on Cawthorne Ward at the Royal Alex, taking it in turns to stay with Pam.
"She wanted to stay in hospital where she felt safe while our son and one of us stayed in hospital accommodation close by.
"It was apparent that the Alex was old - I remember snowflakes blowing through air vents onto the floor during the harsh winter.
"The snowflakes landed on my face as I was on a mattress on the floor, next to my daughter.
"The Alex could be a very spooky place at night but the staff more than made up for any discomfort.
"The staff even put on a disco with flashing Christmas tree lights and decorated her room for her last Christmas.
"We made so many friends with the nurses and doctors and know that it is their love and care that will make the new Alex just as good."
Nanette Morgan, from Burgess Hill, said: "I was very ill with pleurisy and spent two months in the Royal Alex at the age of seven in 1937.
"My daughter Jennifer was born in June, 1955, and was one of the first hole-in-the-heart babies to be operated on. She spent ten months in the Royal Alex being fed by tubing and was eventually moved to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where she had the operation to mend her heart.
"This was a very new operation in those days and we were one of the lucky ones because she survived. She is now 52 years old and married with two grown-up sons.
"Sister Janes was the sister in charge of her ward and we kept in touch with her over the years. She came to Jennifer's wedding in 1977."
Patricia Newson, from Portslade, said: "If my youngest son Christopher hadn't been admitted to the Royal Alex with a chest infection in April 1979, we would not have met Blue Ted who played a most important part in his childhood.
"We arrived on the ward rather anxiously as this was the first time Chris, just two, would have been parted from his family.
"We were met by a very caring ward sister who showed us a bed. There, lying waiting to be picked up, was a royal blue and white teddy bear.
"The toys were left on the beds to help the children settle in.
"Immediately the bear became a firm favourite and when we left after a few days Chris was allowed to keep his Blue Ted.
"He was there every night at bedtime and remained Chris's favourite cuddly toy until outgrown.
"I've lost count of the number of time repairs were needed but he remains intact to this day, rather battered and old and living in the loft but a very loved and much cared for bear who will always remind us of the Royal Alex."
Bob Pelham, from Hove, said: "In 1937, when I was five years old, I went to St Ann's Well Gardens with my mother.
"As we passed some children playing by a tree, I was attacked by a swarm of wasps and stung all over. My mother took me to the Royal Alex. Even at that age I can remember how kind the nurses were, how they took off my little blazer and shook out several of my attackers and treated the stings.
"I recall telling them I had been bitten by big flies wearing football jerseys!
"In 1943, now 11, I was again in St Ann's Well Gardens when I ran across a pothole and sprained my ankle. I dragged myself home to Denmark Terrace and my father carried me to the Royal Alex where I was strapped up and kept in.
"The air raid siren went during the night and we were herded into a shelter. I can't remember where."
Jenny Watts, from Sussex, said: "My sister and her family were leaving the UK for Australia in February, 1958. We were all going to spend a last Christmas together but I had been booked to have my appendix out at the Alex on December 18 and they kept you in for ten days back then.
"They came to get me for my op. In those days no parent was allowed to be there at the time, only during visiting hours.
"However despite the medication, I was wide awake.
"When I got to theatre, the anaesthetist told me to count to ten and then I said, What do I do next?' He told me to count to ten again, which I did, but I forgot to ask for my appendix in a jar, which annoyed me.
"The ward was lovely, except when they gave it its daily clean. My bed was pushed under a huge Christmas tree and I spent the rest of the day picking pine needles out of my blankets.
"We had carols by candlelight from the nurses. I spent a whole carol service on the Sunday sitting on a bedpan because no one would interrupt the service.
"Because my sister was emigrating, the hospital kindly let me out early, providing I stayed in bed over Christmas.
"I heard everyone enjoying themselves downstairs and all I had was a toy organ on which I played interminably bad tunes.
"Despite my sister leaving, I'd much rather have stayed in the Alex - it was much more fun."
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