Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital Celebrates Day of Remembrance
Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital honoured it's founders at the annual Day of Remembrance Celebration on 11 November 2015, held to commemorate the World War II servicemen and veterans who donated two days of their pay towards what was to become the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
Their vision was to create a living memorial in honour of their fallen comrades and today, this world-class Hospital has become a cornerstone in paediatric healthcare on the African continent and continues to save the lives of more than a quarter million children each year. In 2016, it will see its 60th year.
The ethos of giving from the founding war heroes lives on through the fundraising of the Children’s Hospital Trust, which relies on the benevolence of donors to ensure that the Hospital remains on a par with international standards of child healthcare. Hundred percent of all donations to the Children’s Hospital Trust go directly to the benefit of children in need of highly complex medical intervention.
Military dignitaries in regiment uniforms gather on the Hospital’s premises with their families each year, where a ceremony takes place to pay tribute to the heroes, who originated this iconic hospital.
At a moving ceremony on November 11th 2011, a Day of Remembrance service was held for the first time at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Military dignitaries, invited guests, Hospital staff and members of the public gathered in the front of the Hospital to remember those who fought, those who fell and those who lived to tell the stories. Since that inaugural event in 2011, the Day of Remembrance ceremony at the Hospital has grown in stature and attendance and this year more than 150 guests and members of the public attended.
Liz Linsell, Children’s Hospital Trust Head of Legacies says, “It is important that we acknowledge and remember the veterans who were so instrumental in the founding of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. Our Circle of Life Legacy programme continues this tradition and commemorates not only our founding donors, but also all of those who have chosen to leave a legacy gift to the Children’s Hospital Trust in their Will, or made a donation in memory of a loved one.”
This year’s Day of Remembrance ceremony programme included the Cape Field Artillery Pipes and Drums, the Isivunguvungu Youth Band, marching sentries and MOTHS standards, the Last Post, two minutes of silence and Reveille as well as a wreath laying.
- In 1945, it was suggested that a children's hospital be built as a memorial to those who had contributed by sacrifice, suffering and service in World War II. As it was felt that children had been the innocent victims of the war, the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital was devoted to the relief of the suffering of children.
- The building of the Hospital commenced in 1953 under the guidance of the South African Red Cross Society at a cost of R1,6million. The public donated an amount of R476 000 and the rest was provided by the Cape Provincial Administration, now called the Western Cape Government.
- In 1956, the ownership of the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital was handed over to the Western Cape Government Health, which covers the Hospital’s operational costs.
- The Children’s Hospital Trust is a non-profit, public benefit organisation that continues to support and fundraise for the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and paediatric healthcare in the Western Cape.
- The Children’s Hospital Trust works in partnership with the Western Cape Government Health on projects that benefit the Hospital.
- In front of the Hospital’s main entrance is a bronze statue of Peter Pan, which was donated by Mr. Vyvyan Watson – a World War II veteran, who chaired the Red Cross Hospital Building Committee and was President of the SA Red Cross Society, during the building phase of the Hospital in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The statue is in memory of Mr. Watson’s four year old son Peter, who passed away of diphtheria at a time when there was no specialist children’s hospital. Peter’s legacy has lived on through this memorial and through his sister, Clemmie Hannay-Robertson, who is a dedicated volunteer at the Hospital.