Transcript from the East Dorset Herald 20 March 1919
Grata Quies: Closing of the Hospital
Presentations to the Medical Officer and staff
For nearly four and a half years, “Grata Quies”, the beautiful woodland residence of Mrs Mounsey Keysham, delightfully situate amid the pine trees of Branksome Park, has been in use as a hospital for the sick and wounded from the various battlefields of the great war. In the closing days of 1914 it became the temporary home of soldiers from the Belgian Army, under the administration of a Sub-Committee of the Bournemouth War Relief Committee, known as the Belgian Wounded Soldiers’ War Sub-Committee. It so continued for some time, and when it ceased to be needed for the accommodation and treatment of Belgians the same Sub-Committee undertook the administration of it as auxiliary hospital for sick and wounded from the British Army. Their work came to and on Thursday in last week, when the hospital was closed, the patients then remaining being transferred to Cosham. To celebrate the conclusion of their work, and to provide some slight recognition of valuable services rendered by the staff, a special meeting of the Committee and staff was held on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately the chairman of the Committee (Alderman CH Mate, JP) was prevented from attending by illness, but with this exception there was a full muster, the members present being: Mr C Hodges, JP., Mr C Sidgwick, Mr Kitcher, Mrs E Bottomley, Mr A George, Mrs Evans, and Mr H Forde (Hon. Secretary and Treasurer), others attending including Major-General and Mrs Stevenson, Miss Butler (Matron), Miss Gabbett (a former Matron), Dr Barlow, Mr Belben, Mrs CH Mate, Mrs Sheriton, The Rev. E Corner (who for some time past has acted as Chaplain), and Mr Gaythorn Hill (Hon. Assistant Secretary). It may here be appropriate to add that the late Dr Roberts Thomson was for some time a member of the Committee, and since his decease his widow has generously lent her motor car for daily use for the purposes of the hospital. For service of similar character the Committee have been indebted to, among others, Colonel Dickson Dickson, JP., and the Rev. E Corner, while the organisation of the egg collection undertaken by the last named and Mrs Corner conferred benefits not to be lightly esteemed.
After some necessary business of the Committee had been transacted, photographs were taken of the Committee and Staff. Then tea was provided , and following that a meeting was held under the presidency of Mr C Sidgwick, who after expressing his great regret at the absence of Mr Mate, and the cause which kept him away, asked Mr Forde to read the letter which had been sent by Mr Mate. In this letter the writer, after expressing his great disappointment at being unable to be present, said “The Committee have always been so generous that I am sure they will forgive my absence, knowing its cause. But my own feeling is one of deep regret; I am deprived of the privilege of meeting the Committee and Staff in grand assembly, and of thanking each and all for the splendid work done during the last four and a half years. When I look back over that period I feel proud to know that, notwithstanding many difficulties and troubles, we have worked most harmoniously together, have accomplished a good work and made the name of Grata Quies one which will be cherished in most tender regard by many a brave lad who has been sent here for treatment and been blessed with the kindly ministration of Doctors and Matrons, of sisters and nurses, of the household staff and of the administrative officials. Other opportunity may perhaps be found for a general review of our work – possibly in the form of a report to the War Relief Committee, but I feel I should be lacking in my duty as Chairman of the Committee and an official link with the War Relief Committee if I did not take the present chance to thank all our workers for their splendid service and to add also an expression of my very great appreciation of the support given to us by many kind friends in Branksome Park and Bournemouth, without whose generous cooperation we could not possibly have carried on the Hospital as efficiently as it has been conducted, nor done so much for the comfort and enjoyment of the men committed to our care. A noble spirit of patriotism and self-sacrifice has animated every effort; everyone seems to have felt it not only a duty but a privilege to do something – to do it well and continuously – in support of the great cause for which our country has been fighting, and making appropriate complement to the valour and heroism ofour magnificent soldiery. The certificates which it is proposed to present to the staff are necessarily a poor expression of our thanks, but every recipient will retain the knowledge of his or her own effort, and that recollection will, I hope, be as grateful as, I am assured, is the remembrance of Grata Quies which lingers in the minds of many of our former patients.”
Mr Kitcher submitted a proposition that the best thanks of the Committee should be given to the Matron and Staff for the good work they had done for the hospital. He referred sympathetically to the absence of Mr Mate and expressed his pleasure that Mrs Mate was present to represent him and would present the Certificates to the Staff. Mr Kitcher sploke also of the Committee’s high appreciation of the work of the Matron (Miss Butler), the Sisters and the excellent staff of V.A.D. who carried out the duties of nursing the wounded men sent to Grata Quies Hospital. He referred also to the work of the Medical Staff and mentioned that during the four years the Hospital had been open no less than 2,500 patients had been passed through the Hospital, and so far as he could remember not a single complaint had been heard from any of them, which spoke volumes for the labour of love and service by the Staff.
Certficates “ in recognition of valuable work done for the Hospital during the Great War of 1914-1919” were then presented to the following by Mrs Mate: Miss Butler (Matron), Sister Webster, sister Ross-Jones, Sister Baker, Miss Stubbs, Miss Glyn, Miss Le Seuer, Nurse Bristowe, Nurse Haig, Nurse Purkis, Nurse Hore, Nurse Reeves, Nurse Barton, Nurse Bush, Nurse Penrose, and Nurse Blount. Other certificates have also been awarded and will be presented at a later date. With each certificate was presented an envelope containing a small war bonus.
The Matron briefly and suitably acknowledged the presentation both on behalf of herself and the Staff, following which Miss Glyn, on behalf of the Staff, presented Miss Bottomley (the Deputy Commandant), and Mrs Sherston with charming souvenirs as a token of their esteem and appreciation of the many acts of kindness shown to them by these two hardworking ladies.
Mr C Hodges, who was next called upon, said he was sure that everyone of them would be delighted that an opportunity now presented itself to show their appreciation of the good, disinterested and effective work done by their kind friend Dr Elliott, extending now over a period over two years, during which time, with the occasional help of Dr Barlow and Dr Belben, he had taken charge of the Medical Book of the Hospital, attending daily, and sometimes twice a day when exceptionally bad cases needed his attention. During the period he had mentioned over a thousand sick and wounded soldiers had passed through the wards and all had been more or less under Dr Elliott’s treatment. One hardly knew which to admire most, the skill and devotion with which Dr Elliott carried on his work or the spirit of patriotism which animated and induced him to take it up. He came at a time when the Committee were sorely pressed for medical assistance , and although he had for some years retired from active work in Ireland and was taking a well-earned rest, he volunteered to assist them and threw himself heart and soul into the work. His soul was in it and all those who had worked with him would testify to his skill as a doctor, to his patience with the men, and above all to the kind and loving way in which he carried out his duties.
Mr Hodges concluded by requesting the Doctor’s acceptance of a beautiful silver vase, suitably inscribed, as a small token of appreciation from the Committee, and members of staff, in recognition of his services freely given to the Hospital. It would, he knew, be accepted in the spirit in which it was given, and would, in more peaceful days to come, remind him of that part he played and of the services he rendered to his country in the great war.
Dr Elliott in acknowledging what he described as “ the beautiful presentation” he had just received, and the “greatest surprise of his life,” said that any little good he had been able to do would have been impossible without the assistance of his kind friends, Dr Barlow and Dr Belben, whose help and advice were more than valuable. The happiest two years of his later life had been since his association with Grata Quies, which was not to be wondered at, for from General Stevenson, the Matron and Sisters, down to the youngest V.A.D., he had received nothing but kindness, the most willing help, consideration and smiles! This, combined with the consistent goodness of the Committee and their appreciation of his small services, had made his lot an enviable one.
Mr AT George in a few appropriate words submitted resolution acknowledging the indefatigable services of Mr Forde, the Hon Secretary, and asked that gentleman’s acceptance of a silver mounted ink stand as a token of respect from the Committee. Mr Forde, he said, had not missed a single committee meeting since the time of his appointment, and few could realize the immense amount of work he had done in a quiet unassuming way.
Mr Forde briefly replied.
In the absence of the Chairman a resolution of thanks to General Stevenson was then submitted by Mr Hodges. They all, he said, recognized how thoroughly the General had carried out his duties – dutied which had, in many cases, been surrounded with difficulties. To please the War Office and at the same time to satisfy the demands of the various hospitals had presented problems which had taxed his skill to the uttermost. But he had proved equal to the occasion. The fact of his (Mr Hodges)being a member of the House Committee of Boscombe Hospital, had given him the opportunity of realising how by tact, pleasant and agreeable manner and firm administration, the General had succeeded during the last four years in superintending and controlling the various hospitals under his charge, through which so many thousands of wounded soldiers had passed. His sympathy for the wounded men, his kind words to the nursing staff, had had their effect, and he was spoken of by the Matron, Sisters and Nurses as the “Dear General,” and he (Mr Hodges) was sure, if it were in their power, they would like to give him a Baronetcy or create him a Peer of the Realm.
General Stevenson in briefly acknowledging the “very nice things regarding himself expressed by Mr Hodges,” said that of Grata Quies he had nothing to say that was not good. It would be invidious to make comparisons, but he might state that no Auxiliary Hospital in the group had been more efficiently carried on than this had been. It had done excellent work of all kinds for the patients it had to care for, and with the best results.
A vote of thanks to Dr Barlow and Mr Belben and the Chairman brought the meeting to a close and an entertainment and dance followed.