Restoring a Special Historical Legacy
Signs aren’t always about way-finding or advertising. Sometimes they can preserve and honour important legacies. That was certainly the case earlier this month, when we restored a unique honours board and presented it to University Hospital Birmingham.
A few months earlier, staff found the hand-carved board broken and unloved in a cupboard at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Upon it was written the names of a long line of matrons, dating back to the 1700s.
Our director, Michelle was called in to create a new board, but when she saw the original she fell in love with it. A fine piece of craftsmanship, despite its condition, she couldn’t bear to see it go to waste and offered to restore it for free – on the condition that our apprentices Macauley and Pix could use it as a learning exercise in traditional signwriting.
It took over a week for our team to restore, but being able to replicate brilliant craftsmanship was a joy. Made of solid mahogany, they lovingly brought it back to its former glory using 23.5 carat gold leaf (oh yes!) and re-varnished and repainted it till it was stunning once again.
We also discovered that the final name on the Matron’s Board, Helen Tees, was a much loved and influential member of staff. A long-serving manager and senior nurse, Helen started her career in the 1960s and was known to have brought a wealth of experience and genuine compassion to each of the Birmingham hospitals she worked in. Described as modest, energetic and having a big heart, she was nominated for the Best in Care Awards 2009. Sadly, Helen died recently, but the newly restored board will ensure her legacy is preserved.
Around 20 senior nursing staff from across the Trust, in addition to the two hospitals’ chief nurses, attended the handover, which you can watch below. The honours board will be displayed in QEHB once a permanent home has been found.