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BBC Songs of Praise Remember Diana, Princess of Wales at Mildmay

We were delighted when Songs Of Praise asked to film at Mildmay Hospital for the upcoming programme, commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The programme was broadcast on Sunday 27th August, 4pm, BBC One and can now be viewed until 26th September here.

Mildmay are holding our own event to remember, honour and celebrate the life of Diana, Princess of Wales on 31st August at our hospital, so we were even more delighted to be a part of this special edition of Songs Of Praise.

The lovely Pam Rhodes, one of the presenters of Songs Of Praise carried out the interviews on the day of filming with her customary warmth and care. Pam has hosted Mildmay’s Christmas Carol Concert in the past and it was wonderful to be able to welcome her to our hospital and spend some time in our beautiful chapel, where most of the interviews were held.

We were also thrilled to be able to meet Frances, the mother of a past patient at Mildmay who very recently got back in touch with us. This is the first time Frances has returned to Mildmay Hospital since her son Kevin was a patient here. It was a privilege to share some of her memories and touching tribute. She spoke of what it was like to be diagnosed with HIV at that time and how Stigma blighted so many lives. Kevin was one of the patients who met Diana, Princess of Wales and Frances remembers the meeting with great joy. It also meant a great deal to her son who presented the Princess with two of his watercolour paintings. Later the Princess invited Kevin and, as Frances refers to them, ‘some of the boys’, to Kensington Palace for tea. Sadly Kevin was too unwell to attend but when the others returned they told Kevin that his paintings were hanging on the walls of the Palace. He was delighted and very moved.

diana-mildmay hospital-04

Pam also interviewed Julian, who worked at Mildmay for 18 years and was lead nurse during this time. He was able to talk about the incredible impact the Princess’s visits made and how she helped to break down some of the stigma surrounding HIV. Her influence was phenomenal and the difference she made to everyone she met was remarkable. Julian remembers her spending time with every patient she met and how much that meant to so many, she gave people the feeling that there was a personal connection- quite simply she cared. The Princess was also very knowledgeable about HIV and this helped her to connect with patients in an informed as well as compassionate way. Julian was also able to talk about what it meant for people to be diagnosed with HIV then, the appalling stigma, the uncertainty and fear and the fact that many people lost so very many friends. But there is also the feeling that there was great resilience and comradeship, everyone pulled together.

Through Julian we get a real sense of the passion and caring embodied by the staff at Mildmay who were determined to make a difference. This passion is shown in our team at Mildmay today as we work to rehabilitate people with complex HIV health conditions including HIV associated brain impairment. 

Diana, Princess of Wales made many visits to Mildmay, three officially but many others unofficially. Mildmay were also honoured when her son HRH Prince Harry came to officially open our new hospital at the end of 2015. The Prince also returned to Mildmay for an unofficial visit last year.

Prince Harry visits Mildmay Hospital

HRH Prince Harry visits Mildmay – 14Dec15



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