It was about this time of year, almost fifty years ago now. I was working in Highbury. I was journeying home on the Highbury and Islington train line to the now-defunct Broad Street station. In my youthful exuberance, I was rushing to catch the next train when I stumbled on the stairway, wrenching my shoulder. I boarded the train.
I realised that all was not right whilst sitting on the train, and upon investigation, I discovered I had dislocated my shoulder. I considered my options and decided that my best bet for assistance was at Broad Street station. On arrival, I approached the station staff and was duly shepherded into the staff restroom. This rather shabby, smoked-filled room was full of burly train staff waiting for their connections. An ambulance was called for, and as I sat there feeling rather sore, I became the receiver of much jesting and comment.
Soon the ambulance arrived. "Oh! a dislocated shoulder, we’ll sort that out. Stand up, son, this might hurt while we manipulate your shoulder".
As I stood up, the noisy room had gone completely silent, only disturbed by the rushed feet and the banging of the door, as the room full of burly train staff swiftly emptied as they exited the building.
After several attempts at relocating my shoulder, it was decided that I needed to be hospitalised. There was a discussion about where to take me. I can’t recall why now, but there was a capacity problem with the main hospitals in the capital at that time. One of the ambulance crew suggested the Mildmay Mission as it was nearby and such a nice hospital. "They’ll look after you there alright son", and they bundled me into the back of the ambulance.
On arrival, I was very quickly attended to, and my arm was soon relocated to my shoulder joint. To my surprise, I was admitted to a ward and consequently stayed a further two days under observation. All before mobile phones, I think I managed to get let my workplace know, but was unable to inform my parents where I was.
I was discharged with care instructions and contact details if needed and went home.
And so ends my story, almost.
Very much to my surprise, a week later, I received a handwritten Christmas card from the ward staff and hospital wishing me well and saying how they enjoyed my company and being able to look after me.
I was very moved by that encounter and responded in kind with my own card and wishes.
Subsequently, for a number of years, at Christmas following, I received a card and wishes.
Every year I was astounded to receive those kind wishes. I wondered every time if I was the only recipient or if every patient received such heartwarming wishes and concerns. I can’t believe they would have had enough time to write so many cards for each of your patients though.
I see from your website that the building I knew has been replaced by a more modern version, but your ethos is still very much in place.
I wish all of the dedicated staff at the Mildmay Mission Hospital a truly wonderful Christmas, and thank you most deeply for a memory that has been held in my mind every year since.