Mildmay launched their 150th anniversary celebrations with the burial of the Mildmay 150 Time Capsule hosted by Gilly Yarrow, the Lady Mayoress of London in November 2015.
The weeks leading up to this special day were filled with preparations of the best kind. Receiving and reading so many messages from staff, volunteers, supporters and clients was very moving. They gave a real sense of our past work and also of the affection and regard that so many people carry for Mildmay. As we gathered together old photographs and documents, we wondered who would be opening our capsule in 50 years, and what the future would bring. We all agreed that we hope the battle against HIV would be won, and stigma and prejudice would be a thing of the past. We filled the specially created Mildmay Time Capsule to it’s brim, then buried it in the earth waiting for The Lady Mayoress of London to officially seal it.
From 11am, our guests began to arrive at Mildmay Hospital and take their places for our small service of thanks-giving. As The Very Revd John Richardson, chair of Mildmay said, “ This was“an opportunity rejoice in our past, look to the opportunities for our present and look forward to our future”
The lady Mayoress joined supporters, staff and volunteers for a very moving and uplifting service. Sopranao Sally Harrison, who has graced our last two Christmas carol services, filled the room with her beautiful voice, touching us all with the emotion carried through the music. Our Executive Director Dr Ross White spoke about our origins and the work of William and Catherine Pennefather, whose faith and vision still shines through in the work we do today. Helen Taylor Thompson, past Chair of Mildmay, who headed the campaign and the fight to prevent closure in the 1980’s, spoke about Mildmay’s move into HIV services and care. This was at a time when we could only offer people comfort, care, dignity and love during in their final weeks and days. These were dark days when there was so much fear and ignorance surrounding HIV. We remembered Princess Diana’s many visits to the hospital and how she helped to break down some of that stigma by taking a patients hand, and giving Mildmay such support.
There is no better way to express how Mildmay’s work changes lives than to hear it directly from those whose lives we have affected. Two of our ex-patients spoke movingly about how Mildmay helped not only with physical healing and medical care, but also with emotional support. As their stories unfolded, no one could fail to be moved and inspired by their strength, grace and courage.
The lady Mayoress also presented long-standing awards for service to three of our volunteers. We rely so much on our volunteers and supporters and this seemed the perfect opportunity to recognise three of the people who have given so much to Mildmay over the years.
“As I come to the end of my term as Lady Mayoress of London I can reflect on the many events I have been to and the many places I have visited. I can truly say that I am blown away by the work you do day on day here at Mildmay, and truly moved by hearing your patient’s testimonies. The caring you do with the support of your volunteers and many supporters is deeply humbling. I thank you so much for inviting me here today to take part in this special ceremony.”
This was a wonderful day and we all felt very proud to be a part of Mildmay.
Included in Mildmay 150 time capsule were – messages from many of Mildmay’s staff, trustees, patients, volunteers and supporters which have been sent in over the past two months. Information about our work past and present. Photographs past and present. Signed architects plans and drawings of the building and site. Empty drug packets to show examples of HIV medication in 2015 and drug charts. Hospital food menus, national and local newspapers and of course some red ribbons.
Photographs of the event were all taken by Kois Miah for photographs.
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